Ashley Young and Chris Smalling are on the verge of returning for United, while Phil Jones could only be a fortnight away. Benoit Assou-Ekotto is preparing to return to training for Tottenham, Armand Traore is determined to nail down a starting role for QPR’s home clash with Everton, while Nigeria are keen to call up Shola Ameobi for next year’s African Cup of Nations:
Reports indicate that United’s injury crisis is finally beginning to lessen. The Mail claim both Chris Smalling and Ashley Young could be available for Saturday’s home showdown with Stoke after toe and knee problems respectively. A return for Young, who has failed to feature since Gameweek 2, could afford Sir Alex Ferguson the chance to move back to 4-4-2; with Antonio Valencia climbing off the bench in Gameweek 7, it will be intriguing to see whether United continue with their recent diamond formation or move Wayne Rooney up top alongside Robin Van Persie for the Potters clash.
Smalling has played no part in his side’s seven league matches thus far, though his possible return could well cast doubts over Rafael’s game time at right-back if Ferguson decides to keep Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand as his two centre-halves. With Phil Jones reportedly a fortnight away from returning, the Brazilian could have a fight on his hands to hold onto his place in the Red Devils’ starting XI.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto looks set to return to training for Spurs this week. The Cameroon international has failed to feature since Gameweek 3 due to a knee injury but a number of weeks’ rest seems to have resolved the situation and prevented the need for surgery. While he’s not quite ready for a first-team berth, Assou-Ekotto’s imminent comeback hands Andre Villas-Boas a defensive quandary. Jan Vertonghen’s move to left-back has allowed Steven Caulker the chance to slot in alongside William Gallas in the heart of defence – Caulker has produced a goal, an assist and clean sheet in his three appearances but may be set to lose out. Vertonghen is expected to move back into the middle and bearing in mind Gallas has played every minute so far under the new manager, the former Swansea loan star faces a struggle to hold onto a starting role.
Armand Traore is pushing for a starting role for QPR’s home clash with Everton – just weeks after fearing his season was over. The former Arsenal man revealed yesterday:
“”I’m very happy to be back because about a month ago I was told I had a fracture in my shin – a broken leg. They told me I was out for at least six months. I went to see a specialist, who said there was no fracture but a stress response, which meant that if I keep playing on it, it will snap. It was a big relief. I’m very happy but I’m still a bit scared – my confidence is not there. I hope it should be OK now. I’m just going to have to wait and see. I just want to build up my confidence now and play as regularly as I can. I know what I can do and just want to stay injury-free and push on.”
Traore climbed off the bench for the R’s last time round at West Brom – his previous appearance was back in Gameweek 2, where a challenge from Robert Norwich forced him out of the 1-1 draw at Norwich. With a strong run of home games on the horizon (REA, SOU, AVL, FUL, WBA), Mark Hughes’ side are handed a chance to climb the table – if Traore can oust Clint Hill from the left-back berth on a regular basis, he could be one to keep an eye on if his side’s form can improve.
While Senegal’s exit from the upcoming African Cup of Nations handed Alan Pardew some good news, with Demba B a and Papiss Cisse now available for domestic duty, the Magpies boss could be set to lose another of his forwards. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has revealed he is looking to bring Shola Ameobi into his squad for the tournament in South Africa, despite the fact the forward has previously played for England U21:
“”Shola is a good striker and he has a chance to be on the plane to South Africa. I’ve been watching him closely and he’s got something unique. He will definitely bring something different to the attack. I have Shola and (Everton’s) Victor Anichebe in my striking plans.”
Darron Gibson is edging towards a comeback for Everton. The midfielder has been unavailable since limping out of the Gameweek 3 defeat at West Brom with a thigh injury after just 19 minutes –Phil Neville and Leon Osman have been the Toffees’ main central midfield pairing in the Irishman’s absence but their places could be under threat after the news that Gibson is expected to return to full training later this week ahead of his side’s trip to QPR on Sunday.
Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Frimpong are all expected to start for Arsenal reserves against Chelsea tomorrow. Reports even suggest that the latter two could be available for the Gunners’ trip to Norwich this weekend if they come through unscathed, while Wilshere could be in line for his first start of the season towards the end of the month, with a Capital One Cup tie with Reading pencilled in as a potential return date.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby