The international break is a period rife with uncertainty, with various Fantasy Premier League players nursing or recuperating from knocks and each withdrawal from a national squad greeted with as much scepticism as it is concern for the fitness of a prized FPL asset.
We’ve taken the downtime of this Fantasy-free fortnight as an opportunity to bring you the latest club bulletins and direct quotes concerning the players affected, which will hopefully assuage any injury fears – or perhaps add to them.
The Bournemouth winger triggered a wave of apprehension when he pulled out of the Scotland squad on Tuesday, the second international break in succession in which he has returned to the south coast early.
The Scotland manager Alex McLeish said this of the pint-sized midfielder:
He’s been getting treatment, not doing so much training, and saved electric performances for his club in recent weeks. We were very keen to get him involved given the way he’s been burning it up.
He was very keen and came up on the plane on Sunday but he failed a medical with the Scotland doctors and physios. He was absolutely determined to stay but we had no choice but to send him back.
The issue has been reported as a hamstring injury, a problem that has seemingly plagued Fraser since September.
We have been here before, of course. Fraser was a major doubt ahead of the visit of Leicester City in Gameweek 5 and hadn’t been spotted in training ground photos prior to that clash, but subsequently delivered his biggest haul of the season with two goals, an assist and maximum bonus.
Bournemouth are yet to make a statement on Fraser’s condition, with the hope (for his 22.6% of owners, anyway) being that his withdrawal from the Scotland squad is purely precautionary – though McLeish’s comments about “failing a medical” will only add to the anxiety.
Before we trigger any unnecessary fretting, the West Ham United striker is not injured per se and his problems don’t warrant a flag in FPL – but quotes from the player yesterday confirmed he is playing through the pain barrier at the moment.
The knee is not the best but I am fit and I can play. I’m not training a lot at West Ham to try and my knee calm.
It is going to take some time as I have some inflammation in my bone but I am always ready to play on the weekend.
After a game, I need some rest for about two or three days. By the middle of the week, I am training normally with the team, training in full.
And on the weekend I can play, that is the most important thing. Obviously, you can’t do anything on this bone bruise.
You can’t change it, you can’t do nothing, you just have to treat it well to settle it down but I can handle the pain so for me in the game I am 100 per cent fit.
I’m ready for every game. I’m ready for Northern Ireland and afterwards back at West Ham my focus will be on Tottenham.
Questions on Arnautovic’s fitness have been a weekly occurrence in Manuel Pellegrini’s pre-match press conferences over the last month or so, but the Austrian forward’s comments state that he and the club have developed a fitness regime designed to help him play on a weekly basis – excellent news for the legions of us who either own him already or are considering acquiring his services for the Hammers’ superb run of fixtures between Gameweeks 10-21.
Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic
These two Manchester United players both pulled out of their respective national teams’ squads earlier this week, though the concern from a Fantasy perspective will be for Shaw, rather than his Serbian team-mate.
United’s bulletin said:
Luke Shaw has withdrawn from the England squad and is returning to Manchester United, meaning the in-form defender will miss the two UEFA Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.
The 23-year-old’s exit from the Three Lions’ camp was announced by The FA on Monday evening, and he will now return to the Aon Training Complex for treatment.
It remains to be seen if Shaw will be available for the Reds’ anticipated return to action on Saturday 20 October, against Jose Mourinho’s former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
His issue has been widely reported as a knock picked up in the 3-2 win over Newcastle United last Saturday.
The club’s statement on Matic followed a similar template, with the “remains to be seen” line trotted out for the Serbian midfielder too.
Further updates are awaited on Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera, who remain doubts for that trip to Chelsea.
Danny Rose and Alex McCarthy
Thursday morning brought news that England had been hit by two further withdrawals, as Rose and McCarthy returned to their respective clubs.
The pair had sat out training earlier in the week but the Football Association’s statement played down the severity of their injuries:
Having arrived in camp with minor injuries, Alex McCarthy and Danny Rose have now returned to their clubs and won’t feature in this month’s games.
Reports circulating this week in the media suggest Liverpool hope to have Milner back from a hamstring injury within a month after the midfielder was substituted early in the 0-0 draw with Manchester City.
We previously discussed the potential positive implications for the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane regarding spot-kick duties, with Milner having headed the queue so far this season.
What we didn’t note at the time, of course, is that Milner has taken more corner-kicks than any Liverpool player this season – meaning the likes of Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri may stand to benefit at dead-ball situations.
Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele
Roberto Martinez appeared to give the game away earlier in the week regarding the severity of Vertonghen’s injury, saying this about the defender’s hamstring injury:
It’s bad news. He could miss two Belgium camps.
That would put Vertonghen out at least until the November international break. Pochettino was unimpressed about Martinez’s disclosure to the media and was less forthcoming with a timeframe for Vertonghen’s recovery:
We cannot guess. We hope as soon as possible it can be fixed, but we cannot guess.
No official recent update has been given on Eriksen, Alli and Dembele’s absences, though there is speculation that Alli might be ruled for another few weeks with a hamstring problem.
The Ivorian full-back is set to feature for his country this week after being included in their squad for the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Aurier’s return to fitness could impact on Kieran Trippier‘s game time, with the England right-back having enjoyed the monopoly in that position over the last fortnight.
Kevin De Bruyne
“In contention” for the match against Liverpool but ultimately not risked, De Bruyne looks set to make his return to the Manchester City squad in Gameweek 9 for the visit of Burnley.
De Bruyne was left out of the Belgium squad this week in order to aid his recovery and his national team boss Roberto Martinez had this to say about his star midfielder’s healing powers on Sunday:
The issue is how long he will be out and the reports are very positive. I think we’ll see him on the pitch a lot earlier than other players would take with that injury [and] we think he could be even fresher after his period away.
No timescale yet but Kevin wants to be on the football pitch as quick as he can and physically he’s got that natural gift of being able to heal quicker than other players.
Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy were omitted from their respective countries’ squads this week, meanwhile, welcome news for the Fantasy owners of either player given the fitness worries that have dogged them both in recent weeks.
The Eagles gave an update on the Belgian striker yesterday:
The club can confirm that Christian Benteke has undergone minor arthroscopic explorative surgery and washout of his knee, as it had not been settling with conservative management.
The surgeon was happy with the outcome and we expect Christian to return to training very soon. A further update will be given in a few weeks’ time.
Scott Dann and Connor Wickham, meanwhile, are set to feature for a Palace XI in a friendly against Dulwich Hamlet tonight.
Petr Cech is likely to remain out until November, meanwhile.
The Burnley centre-back withdrew from the England squad with a groin injury and said this about his planned recuperation over the international break:
I’ve had a problem for quite a while now and we’re working hard to get things right. But it’s not as simple as just a week’s rest and everything’s fine.
We’ve got to be at it all the time to get things right, which we are doing, and hopefully over the next few weeks we can get that right.
The Chelsea defender had this to say about the groin injury that forced his withdrawal from the Germany squad:
I won’t be available for the German national team for the upcoming two matches due to a groin problem.
I will do some individual training sessions during the international break and I am confident to be back soon. Best of luck to my German teammates for the next two games.
Rudiger had treatment at the end of the Southampton match in Gameweek 8, though it remains to be seen if he is fit for the visit of Manchester United a week on Saturday.
Anyone who has brought in Brighton’s goalkeeper for this excellent run of fixtures that the Seagulls are embarking on would have been concerned about his omission from the Australia squad on fitness grounds, but the Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold has eased any fears of a possible absence in Gameweek 9:
Mathew’s managing a minor injury which hasn’t prevented him from playing or performing for Brighton so far this Premier League season.
He could have travelled to the Middle East, trained with us, and played against Kuwait, but for this window, we believe it is best that he remains in Brighton and returns to full fitness with his club.
Aaron Mooy (groin) only has a minor niggle despite pulling out of the Australia squad, while Paul Dummett‘s ongoing recovery from a hamstring injury forced his withdrawal from Wales duty. The Newcastle left-back was in contention for Gameweek 8, so is not thought to be seriously injured.
Davy Propper (foot) and Ilkay Gundogan (hamstring) are also unavailable for their national teams this week and will be assessed ahead of Gameweek 9.
Charlie Daniels (knee) continued his comeback from injury with an appearance for Bournemouth’s under-21s last week.
Slavisa Jokanovic said Tom Cairney is “not working with us” and “still with pains” after the defeat to Arsenal on Sunday.
Our Injuries and Bans page has more detail on a raft of other players currently nursing knocks or more serious injuries.
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