Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will face some serious selection and fitness problems in the early part of 2018/19 thanks to the World Cup.
The two clubs have a total of 28 players between them that have been involved in this summer’s finals and may all return late to training.
In this second of two articles, we have pulled together a list of every Premier League player who took part in the tournament in Russia, how many starts and minutes they recorded and potential alternative FPL assets in the early part of the season.
As we clarified before, we are expecting more disruption to the start of the 2018/19 season than we saw with the last World Cup. Four years ago, players involved in the semi-finals, third/fourth place play-off and the final had either 34 or 35 days to fit in a (likely) three-week break and some pre-season training before the first Premier League match. This time around it will be either a 27 or 28 day gap, depending on which remaining World Cup fixture the player participates in.
Even those who didn’t play any minutes in Russia were still part of rigorous training camps for the tournament and needed to be fully match fit when they would normally be on holiday. Those assets will still return to pre-season with their respective clubs later than usual and may well also see their minutes and performances limited when the 2018/19 campaign begins.
With all of these players we aren’t suggesting they will all miss out on playing in the first few Gameweeks, only that it might be a possibility. It is certainly conceivable that a lot of players will be overtired from a busy summer and will struggle to perform to the best of their abilities.
Our readers should follow the regular Scout Notes articles on pre-season friendlies to see who is playing and performing for their clubs ahead of the Gameweek 1 deadline.
- SEMI-FINALS: Harry Maguire | 5 starts, 564 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Jamie Vardy | 1 start, 166 minutes
- LAST 16: Kasper Schmeichel | 4 starts, 400 minutes
- LAST 16: Adrien Silva | 2 starts, 156 minutes
- LAST 16: Shinji Okazaki | 1 start, 67 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Wilfried Ndidi | 3 starts, 270 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Ahmed Musa | 2 starts, 207 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Kelechi Iheanacho | 2 starts, 147 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Yohan Benalouane | 0 starts, 49 minutes
England World Cup hero Harry Maguire (£5.5m) looks set to miss the first few Gameweeks of the Premier League campaign, having racked up 564 minutes with England on the way to the World Cup semi-finals. That probably leaves the door open for Jonny Evans (£5.0m) and Wes Morgan (£4.5m) to start at centre-back from Gameweek 1 to 3.
Maguire’s compatriot Jamie Vardy (£8.5m) has a better chance of making into the side to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Friday August 10, having only registered 166 minutes in Russia. However, the 31-year-old struggled with a muscle injury and was later still involved in full training while on England duty and may require extra-time to rest before returning to Premier League action.
Unfortunately for Leciester, the alternative centre-forwards were also involved for their countries at the World Cup, although to less of an extent than Vardy was. Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.0m) made two starts and played 147 minutes for Nigeria before leaving at the end of the group stages while Shinji Okazaki (£5.5m) made it to the knockout rounds with Japan playing just 67 minutes. Neither one of them will be fully fit for Gameweek 1 but may be in better shape than Vardy.
Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) was ever present for Denmark on their journey to the last sixteen but as a goalkeeper he may find it easier slotting back in for Gameweek 1. If not, Eldin Jakupovic (£4.5m) would be the alternative choice between the sticks.
- FINAL: Dejan Lovren | 5 starts, 580 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Jordan Henderson | 5 starts, 491 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Trent Alexander-Arnold | 1 start 79 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Simon Mignolet | 0 starts, 0 minutes
- QUARTER-FINALS: Roberto Firmino | 0 starts 82 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Sadio Mane | 3 starts, 270 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Mohamed Salah | 2 starts 180 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Marko Grujic | 0 starts, 0 minutes
Several important Liverpool players could see their early Premier League starts and performances limited by the World Cup. Competing in the final will almost certainly rule Dejan Lovren (£5.0m) out of Liverpool’s first two Premier League fixtures. Any one of Joel Matip (£5.0m), Joe Gomez (£5.0m) or Ragnar Klavan (£4.5m) could fill the void alongside Virgil van Dijk (£6.0m) while he takes extended leave and returns to pre-season training very late. Gomez and Klavan have rotated around each other in friendlies so far, both playing 45 minutes in each of Liverpool’s two matches so far.
New signings Naby Keita (£7.5m) and Fabinho (£6.0m) both have a strong chance of starting in the initial Gameweeks for Liverpool, with club captain Jordan Henderson (£5.5m) still in Russia. The central midfielder was a key player for England en route to the semi-finals, playing 491 minutes and picking up a knock against Croatia.
The typically ruthless front-three of Mohamed Salah (£13.0m), Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) and Sadio Mane (£9.0m) could begin 2018/19 a little out of sorts. Neither one of them really played enough minutes in Russia to jeopardise starts but Salah may still be recovering from the knock sustained in the Champions League and Firmino was still with the Brazil squad well into July. Adam Lallana (£7.0m) has impressed in pre-season friendlies so far and could come in for any of them while Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings (£5.5m) and Dominic Solanke (£5.0m) are also waiting in the wings.
- FINAL: Benjamin Mendy | 0 starts, 40 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: John Stones | 6 starts, 564 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Kyle Walker | 5 starts, 471 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Kevin De Bruyne | 5 starts 450 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Raheem Sterling | 4 starts, 409 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Vincent Kompany | 3 starts, 286 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Fabian Delph | 1 start, 130 minutes
- QUARTER-FINALS: Gabriel Jesus | 5 starts, 406 minutes
- QUARTER-FINALS: Fernandinho | 1 start, 155 minutes
- QUARTER-FINALS: Danilo | 1 start, 90 minutes
- QUARTER-FINALS: Ederson | 0 starts 0 minutes
- LAST 16: Nicolas Otamendi | 4 starts, 360 minutes
- LAST 16: David Silva | 4 starts, 327 minutes
- LAST 16: Bernardo Silva | 3 starts, 238 minutes
- LAST 16: Sergio Aguero | 2 starts 178 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Ilkay Gundogan | 0 starts, 59 minutes
Manchester City look set to struggle with both team selection and fitness in the early part of the 2018/19 season, with the World Cup claiming 16 first-team players. Seven of those made it as far as the last four while all but one of that contingent got through to the knockout stages.
Of the Manchester City options available in FPL, only Aymeric Laporte (£5.5m), Leroy Sané (£9.5m), Riyad Mahrez (£9.0m), Phil Foden (£5.0m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.0m) and Brahim Diaz (£5.0m) were not involved in the World Cup in some way.
While it would make sense to invest in those players initially, it is entirely possible that the tiredness of their team-mates may reduce their output anyway. After all, of those six World Cup-less players, only three of them look likely to start (Laporte, Sané and Mahrez) so a large portion of City’s Gameweek 1 starting XI will be taken from those who have had a busy summer.
Ederson (£5.5m) should retain his starting berth in goal having not registered a single minute with Brazil but in front of him, only Laporte looks a sure starter. John Stones (£5.5m), Kyle Walker (£6.5m) and Vincent Kompany (£5.5m) all lasted the full tournament with England and Belgium respectively, while Nicolas Otamendi (£6.5m) got to the last sixteen with Argentina. Full-back could be a serious area of struggle with Fabian Delph (£5.5m) and Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m) still in Russia while quarter-finalist Danilo (£5.5m) picked up an injury at the tournament.
Fernandinho (£5.5m) may be able to feature from the beginning of the campaign having only played 155 minutes largely as a substitute with Brazil. Alongside him Ilkay Gundogan (£5.5m) should feature after just 59 minutes played in Germany side knocked out in the group stage.
In attack, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0m) and Gabriel Jesus (£10.5m) shouldn’t be involved for a few weeks, presumably allowing Sane and Mahrez to get some minutes behind Sergio Aguero (£11.0m), who managed just two starts before Argentina were eliminated by France in the second round. David Silva (£8.5m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) may also be doubts for early inclusion having been important figures for Spain and Portugal respectively until the round of sixteen.
- FINAL: Paul Pogba | 5 starts, 449 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Jesse Lingard | 5 starts, 491 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Ashley Young | 5 starts, 450 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Romelu Lukaku | 5 starts, 416 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Marouane Fellaini | 3 starts, 316 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Marcus Rashford | 1 start, 175 minutes
- SEMI-FINAL: Phil Jones | 1 start, 90 minutes
- QUARTER-FINAL: Victor Lindelof | 4 starts, 360 minutes
- LAST 16: David De Gea | 4 starts, 397 minutes
- LAST 16: Marcos Rojo | 3 starts, 225 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Nemanja Matic | 3 starts, 270 minutes
Manchester United may struggle to field a completely fit centre-forward in the first few weeks of the Premier League season with both Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) and Marcus Rashford (£7.0m) in Russia until the penultimate day of the World Cup. Lukaku is the more likely to be rested in Gameweek 1 playing 241 more minutes than Rashford. Alexis Sanchez (£10.5m) could be the one to fill the void having played as a centre-forward at Arsenal during one of his best spells of Premier League form.
Paul Pogba (£8.0m), Jesse Lingard (£7.0m) and Marouane Fellaini (£5.0m) are likely to be missing from the United midfield initially with Anthony Martial (£7.5m), Juan Mata (£6.5m) and Fred (£6.0m) expected to be the main beneficiaries. Nemanja Matic’s (£5.0m) group stage exit may not see him miss too much football, but he will remain a selection risk initially.
The absence of England defenders Ashley Young (£6.0m) and Phil Jones (£5.5m) could justify investment in either one of Luke Shaw (£5.0m) or Diogo Dalot (£5.5m) and Chris Smalling (£6.0m) or Eric Bailly (£5.5m) at centre-half early on.
Marcus Rojo (£5.0m) and Victor Lindelof (£5.0m) went to the knockout stages too and are unlikely to be selected during the first few Gameweeks.
David De Gea (£6.0m) played 397 minutes for Spain as they were surprisingly knocked out by Russia. As a goalkeeper he may be fine to slot straight back in. Keep an eye on our pre-season Scout Notes though as one of Sergio Romero (£5.0m) or Lee Grant (not yet on FPL) could feature in De Gea’s place.
- GROUP STAGE: Aleksandr Mitrovic | 3 starts, 268 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Ki Sung-yeung | 2 starts, 180 minutes
Newcastle look set to be largely unaffected by the World Cup with just two of their players in Russia. The one who played the most minutes Aleksandr Mitrovic (not on FPL yet) may not even be a Newcastle player much longer after a successful loan spell at Fulham has already raised suggestions he may move there permanently. Either way, he was back home soon after Serbia were knocked out in the group stage.
New signing Ki Sung-yeung (£5.0m) started two World Cup matches, missing out on South Korea’s final match of the tournament with an injury. Accordingly, he may be absent from the first few Premier League fixtures, with Jonjo Shelvey (£5.5m) and Isaac Hayden (£4.5m) set to benefit.
- LAST 16: Maya Yoshida | 4 starts, 360 minutes
- LAST 16: Cedric Soares | 3 starts, 270 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Jan Bednarek | 2 starts, 225 minutes
Southampton’s World Cup absences will only be in defence, with two centre-backs and one wing-back set for an extended summer break.
The probable absence of right-back Cedric Soares (£4.5m) in Gameweek 1 (maybe 2) will be the bigger issue for Mark Hughes to solve. Nathan Redmond (£5.5m) and Shane Long (£5.0m) have been tested on the right-hand side of a 3-5-2 during pre-season so far, which could continue until Cedric returns.
At centre-back, the signing of Jannik Vestergaard should tide Southampton over while Maya Yoshida (£4.5m) misses a Gameweek or two. Jack Stephens (£4.5m), Wesley Hoedt (£4.5m) and Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m) have operated as the back three so far. With that new signing, Jan Bednarek (£4.0m) was unlikely to feature even if he hadn’t gone to the World Cup with Poland.
- FINAL: Hugo Lloris | 5 starts, 450 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Kieran Trippier | 5 starts, 495 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Harry Kane | 5 starts, 492 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Toby Alderweireld | 5 starts, 450 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Jan Vertonghen | 5 starts, 450 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Dele Alli | 4 starts, 358 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Danny Rose | 1 start, 167 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Eric Dier | 1 start, 167 minutes
- SEMI-FINALS: Mousa Dembele | 2 starts 166 minutes
- LAST 16: Christian Eriksen | 4 starts, 400 minutes
- LAST 16: Davinson Sanchez | 4 starts, 399 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Son Heung-min | 3 starts, 270 minutes
Tottenham will find themselves with some selection and fitness problems at the start of 2018/19, especially in central defence and attacking midfield. No Premier League side has more players still in Russia by the semi-final stages than Spurs’ nine.
Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m) and Jan Vertonghen (£6.0m) made it to the last four with Belgium, playing every minute of the tournament aside from the 1-0 win over England in the group stages. Meanwhile, Davinson Sanchez (£6.0m) racked up 399 minutes with Colombia as they were knocked out in the second round. The only first-team cover for those three individuals is Eric Dier (£5.0m), another long-term resident in Russia during the World Cup. So, barring any defensive additions over the summer or promotions from the youth ranks, they are probably all going to have to start in Gameweek 1, and are unlikely to be completely ready for the new season.
The full-back areas are an easier problem for Mauricio Pochettino to solve with Kieran Trippier’s (£6.0m) heroics with England and Danny Rose’s (£6.0m) inclusion in the England squad paves the way for Serge Aurier (£6.0m) and Ben Davies (£6.0m) to have the monopoly on each flank for several weeks.
Attacking midfield will provide a real puzzle, though. Dele Alli (£9.0m) and Christian Eriksen (£9.5m) both registered over 350 minutes of football in Russia, the former staying in the country until the competition’s final matches. Son Heung-min’s (£8.0m) involvement with South Korea didn’t go beyond the group stage but he will now participate in the Asian Games in August, hoping to win the tournament to avoid two years of military service. Erik Lamela (£6.5m) and Lucas Moura (£7.0m) look to be the chief beneficiaries here with selection doubts over Alli, Eriksen and Son.
Up front, Spurs may have no choice but to start Fernando Llorente (£6.0m) if they don’t sign another centre-forward, with Harry Kane (£12.5m) may not start a league match until Gameweek 3.
Finally, Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) may miss some of the early season through involvement in the World Cup final with France. Michel Vorm (5.0m) is currently the understudy who could get some minutes.
- GROUP STAGE: Nordin Amrabat | 3 starts, 256 minutes
Watford’s World Cup absentee is unlikely to cause too many problems for manager Javi Gracia. Nordin Amrabat was knocked out in the group stage with Morocco and there is plenty of cover for him at Vicarage Road too. He was even loaned out to Leganes last season so is clearly not an important figure. Assets such as Gerard Deulofeu (£5.5m), Richarlison (£6.5m) and Roberto Pereyra (£6.0m) will all have easier routes into a Gameweek 1 line-up with Amrabat’s later than usual return to pre-season training.
WEST HAM UNITED
- LAST 16: Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez | 4 starts 330 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Cheikou Kouyate | 1 start, 118 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Lukasz Fabianski | 1 start, 90 minutes
Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m) could retain his role as a centre-forward for West Ham at the beginning of 2018/19 after all. Javier Hernandez (£6.5m) will miss some pre-season training and maybe Gameweek 1 having gone to the last sixteen with Mexico while Andy Carroll (£5.5m) is now out for three months after ankle surgery. The only other alternative is Jordan Hugill (£5.0m), who is clearly not up to the same level as Arnautovic.
If Cheikou Kouyate (£5.0m) misses out for West Ham then Jack Wilshere (£5.0m) will find it easier to work his way into the Gameweek 1 team, as will Mark Noble (£5.0m) and Pedro Obiang (£4.5m).
- LAST 16: Rui Patricio | 4 starts, 360 minutes
- LAST 16: Raul Jimenez | 0 starts, 54 minutes
- GROUP STAGE: Romain Saiss | 2 starts, 180 minutes
John Ruddy (£4.5m) may get a few extra weeks as Wolves number one goalkeeper if new signing Rui Patricio (£4.5m) arrives at training late. He and Portugal were knocked out in the second round by Uruguay.
Romain Saiss (£4.5m) started two matches for Morocco in Russia but left the country after the group stage. He may be back in contention by Gameweek 1, although a whole host of central defensive and midfield will benefit if he is in not.
Raul Jiménez (£5.5m) played just 54 minutes for Mexico this summer so may be competing with Leo Bonatini (£5.0m) and Rafa Mir (£4.5m) to start early on.