It’s hard to remember a Gameweek in which team news updates were so eagerly awaited but the international break – and an Egyptian wedding – has decimated many Fantasy managers’ squads over the last fortnight.
Given that there is so much to address on the fitness front between now and Saturday’s FPL deadline, we’re bringing you this bonus, earlier-than-usual team news article before we attempt to tackle the last-minute mayhem tomorrow.
The managers of Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion all held their official pre-Gameweek 9 press conferences on Thursday, and we’ll round up the key updates below.
The head coaches of the other 14 clubs are happily all scheduled to face the media on Friday, which should reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of any bombshells dropping after the deadline has passed.
We’ll bring you news on those virtual conference calls at the same time tomorrow.
Christian Pulisic (hamstring) will miss the trip to Newcastle United this weekend, with the Saturday lunchtime kick-off also looking like it’ll come too soon for Kai Havertz (match fitness) and Thiago Silva (fatigue).
Speaking to the media today, Frank Lampard said:
Christian Pulisic is not fit for Newcastle but he’s stepped up his training slowly, it’s been quite a problematic injury so we’ll stay cautious.
Kai Havertz is back, his isolation is over, tested negative two days ago. He’s just started training with us, more on his own to get some of his fitness back after two weeks at home.
Thiago Silva has just landed [back from Brazil], he probably won’t be going to Newcastle because of the length of the journey and timings etc.
We’re still waiting on some results from the tests that we now have to do. Unfortunately, some of our players are arriving back this afternoon, some played last night, so with the 12.30 kick-off on Saturday, there’s clearly a lot of challenges for us.
Asked specifically about Ben Chilwell, who was substituted with a back injury while playing for England last Sunday but back on the bench against Iceland in midweek, Lampard said:
I haven’t seen him yet, he stayed with England. He was improving, hence he was on the bench. So I’m positive that he’ll be OK but I’ll have to see him later on today.
Roy Hodgson confirmed that James Tomkins (muscle), Joel Ward (groin) and Tyrick Mitchell (knock) are all back in training and fit to face Burnley on Monday, while Martin Kelly (unspecified) has also made a swift return to the training ground after picking up an injury during the international break.
On Eberechi Eze (muscle), Hodgson added:
He went away with under-21s and picked up a slight injury there. So at the moment we’ll assess how that’s going to go but hopefully it’s not going to keep him out.
Luka Milivojevic is self-isolating after a positive COVID-19 test but is suspended anyway.
Erik Pieters (calf) and Phil Bardsley (knock) are back in contention for Burnley’s match against Crystal Palace, while Sean Dyche said he was optimistic that Charlie Taylor (Achilles) could shake off a “niggle” to also feature.
Dyche added that the Clarets were “hopeful” but “keeping an eye on” Johann Berg Gudmundsson (calf), while Dale Stephens (hamstring) looks set to miss out and Robbie Brady (hamstring) requires further assessment after returning injured from international duty with Ireland.
Jack Cork (foot) remains sidelined.
Dean Smith revealed in his pre-match press conference that Wesley (knee), Bjorn Engels (thigh) and Frederic Guilbert (hip) are still out, adding that the fit-again Tom Heaton (match fitness) “needs a few more minutes” despite featuring for the under-23s and in an in-house game over the international break.
Hosting his virtual media gathering early on Thursday morning, Smith also said that he hadn’t yet had a chance to check on his returning international contingent – several of whom, including Jack Grealish, were in action on Wednesday night.
Kortney Hause (groin) is expected back in training today.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Graham Potter confirmed that Aaron Connolly (hamstring) and Solly March (foot) are back in training and haven’t had any setbacks, while Lewis Dunk returns from suspension.
Davy Propper has a stomach illness, however, while Alexis Mac Allister (COVID-19) is unavailable.
A late decision will also be made on Leandro Trossard (thigh) but Potter did warn that Saturday’s match against Aston Villa “might come a little bit soon”.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Branislav Ivanovic, Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson could all return the West Brom squad this weekend, having recovered from coronavirus.
The Baggies have been hit by more positive COVID-19 tests, however, and Slaven Bilic wouldn’t elaborate on names when asked in his pre-match presser:
Matheus and Branislav are back in training. They have quarantined and tested negative so they are back. We have to be fair, a few other players were positive so they haven’t trained for a few days and we are waiting for their results.
Hopefully, they will be back for training tomorrow, maybe today. A few of the guys who were on international duty, they will be back today and have to do the test again as soon as they land.
Hopefully, they are going to go be good but we have a few cases, yes. The good thing is that Pereira and Ivanovic and back. They have been training the whole week. So they will be fine for the game against Man United.
Callum Robinson tested positive but he was tested against last night and he is negative so he is good.
More detailed information and predicted line-ups can be found in the Team News tab, which will be refreshed over the next two days.
Keep an eye on our Twitter feed, too, for any late-breaking updates.
A video round-up with Andy and Neale will be filmed on Friday.