We’ve got the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) team news information in our second press conference summary ahead of Double Gameweek 21.
A dozen top-flight managers faced the media on Friday, with the conference calls of Ralph Hasenhuttl and Eddie Howe not staged due to the postponement of Southampton v Newcastle United.
You catch the headline updates from Thursday’s pressers – featuring Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United – via this link here.
Az and Neale’s video round-up is below, meanwhile:
And for other help and advice, from our weekly Scout Picks to team reveals, head to our complete Gameweek 21 guide here.
FPL managers will be slightly concerned by Jurgen Klopp’s comments on his squad’s Covid situation.
“We have three new Covid cases in the team and a few more in the staff. I’m not [able to tell you who] because we still have to make the whole processes, get a proper PCR, all these kind of things. You will see the day after tomorrow on the teamsheet, it’s pretty clear then who is affected or infected.”
There’s no word yet on the identities of these new cases, although Alisson and Roberto Firmino were absent from training on Thursday. The third player in question tested positive on Friday morning.
Andrew Robertson will be serving the third and final match of his suspension, meanwhile.
Nathaniel Phillips (cheekbone), Adrian (calf), Divock Origi (knee) and Harvey Elliott (ankle) are known injuries but Klopp also added Takumi Minamino (muscle) and Thiago (hip) to the list.
“I would say Taki [Minamino] is probably closer, he’s running outside. Thiago, not yet. That means for him it might take a little longer. It’s a hip issue and we don’t have an idea where it’s coming from.”
Reece James‘ hamstring injury was being scanned on Friday, with media reporrts suggesting it is a tear that will keep him out for up to two months.
Thomas Tuchel also confirmed that the left-sided Ben Chilwell won’t return from his knee injury this season.
“With Reece [James], he has a hamstring injury. Like always with muscle injuries, the exam is a bit later because the images are better if you wait a bit. The images will be later today, I guess, then we will know more about it.”
Andreas Christensen also left Wednesday night’s match early, this time due to a lower back issue. The fourth defender to succumb to injury is Thiago Silva (hamstring), although he and Timo Werner (Covid) were pictured back in training on Friday.
Doubts remain over Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle), meanwhile.
Takehiro Tomiyasu, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers and Albert Sambi Lokonga all missed the Gameweek 19 win at Norwich City because of Covid but Mikel Arteta doesn’t have any more cases to report.
“The rest of the squad is in a good place, we tested the players and we don’t have any other news than the ones we had before.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, serving an internal club suspension, has been granted permission to join the Gabon AFCON squad early, whilst Sead Kolasinac (ankle) remains out for the foreseeable future.
Marcelo Bielsa was able to deliver both good and bad news, with Kalvin Phillips (hamstring) and Liam Cooper (hamstring) out until March but names like Daniel James (hip), Diego Llorente (illness), Jack Harrison (hip) and Junior Firpo (suspension) declared available for the six-pointer against Burnley.
Patrick Bamford is back from his own hamstring problem – the one that recurred when scoring his comeback goal against Brentford – but there is a match fitness issue that Bielsa intends to control. Jamie Shackleton (achilles), Rodrigo (heel), Charlie Cresswell (shoulder) and Pascal Struijk (knee) remain out.
“This is the fourth week since Patrick’s [Bamford] injury. Patrick is healthy but he hasn’t played for four weeks now. That puts into doubt the convenience of him playing without having done any football training sessions. Phillips and Cooper will return in March. Shackleton and Cresswell will come back towards the end of January or beginning of February.”
Several Covid victims were able to play last time out in Gameweek 19 like Morgan Sanson and Anwar El Ghazi, as Bertrand Traore made his return from a thigh injury.
This time, it’s just the ongoing problems of Leon Bailey (muscle) and Marvelous Nakamba (knee) alongside Tyrone Mings‘ suspension for receiving his fifth yellow card of the season. A late call will be made on Ashley Young (toe).
“Bailey will still be missing, and Nakamba. Young has got an outside chance, he has a little fracture in his toe, but he is pushing to be available. Other than that, we should have the whole group available, dependent on COVID testing.” – Steven Gerrard
Kiko Femenia (hamstring) has joined Danny Rose (knee), Ismaila Sarr (knee), Nicolas Nkoulou (hamstring), Peter Etebo (thigh) and Kwadwo Baah (ankle) on the Hornets’ injury list.
Tom Cleverley (hamstring) is available for the match against Tottenham, whilst Ben Foster (groin) began training outside this week and is ahead of schedule. Christian Kabasele (calf) is due to begin training with the squad again next week.
Assistant manager Osian Roberts spoke to the press in the absence of Patrick Vieira, who is recovering after testing positive for Covid. He was unable to give clarity on Conor Gallagher‘s illness, the one that caused him to miss the 3-0 win over Norwich City.
“It’s one we’re unsure of and we’re tackling it on a day to day basis. The rest of the group, we will see what today brings. Hopefully, we’ll have clarity later on this evening.” – assistant manager Osian Roberts
Joachim Andersen (muscle) could be available and Wilfried Zaha is free of suspension after his red card at Spurs. It’s too soon for James McArthur (hamstring) to return, however.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
The recent recoveries of Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Joel Veltman (fatigue), Neal Maupay (Covid) and Pascal Gross (Covid) have greatly reduced the Seagulls’ injury list, with just Lewis Dunk (knee) and Jeremy Sarmiento (hamstring) out. As for Leandro Trossard, there is optimism that he will recover from his slight hamstring issue.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be available.” – Graham Potter on Leandro Trossard
Covid robbed Nick Pope, Kevin Long, Josh Brownhill and Jay Rodriguez of involvement at Old Trafford but all bar Brownhill could return at Leeds. Ashley Barnes (thigh) has “had a little minor setback” and Connor Roberts (illness) is making progress but is “not there yet”.
Maxwel Cornet (thigh) may be risked, considering his importance to the team and imminent post-match departure to AFCON.
“Kevin Long is back in after his Covid case and two others we’re waiting at the end of their Covid spell, so we’re hopeful that they come back in the next 24 hours. Josh Brownhill won’t because of the protocols. Ashley Barnes had a little minor setback so he’s still a bit of time away. Maxwel [Cornet] has made really good progress and has been on the grass today, so he comes back into the thinking. We’ll have to be careful and decide with him.” – Sean Dyche
Thomas Frank has ruled Rico Henry (hamstring) out of facing Aston Villa but labels Bryan Mbeumo (calf) as a vague “touch and go”. Kristoffer Ajer (hamstring), Vitaly Janelt (Covid) and Dominic Thompson (ankle) may make the bench on Sunday but it’s too soon for names like David Raya (knee), Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen (hamstring), Charlie Goode (hamstring) and Joshua Dasilva (hip).
The Bees can at least welcome back midfielder Christian Norgaard from suspension.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (thigh) was due to make his return against Newcastle United, had the game not been called off. FPL managers will be excited to see him back, having scored in all three early-season matches before getting hurt. However, Rafael Benitez hasn’t yet decided how strongly to ease him back into action.
“The issue will be how long he can play if he starts the game or, if he comes from the bench, how much impact he can [have on] the game. We are considering all these things but he’s training well.”
Richarlison (calf), Andros Townsend (foot), Tom Davies (knee) and Yerry Mina (calf) remain unavailable, with nothing said on the status of Lucas Digne or Demarai Gray. Everton’s Boxing Day match was postponed because they only had nine outfield players available but Benitez wouldn’t be drawn into specifying any more than that.
“We had issues with Covid and these players that had problems are coming back. They have been training so we are much better. We cannot give names, we cannot give numbers.”
Rayan Ait-Nouri (muscle) is about to join the squad for training but won’t make the clash against Manchester United. Also out are Hwang Hee-chan (hamstring), Willy Boly (calf), Pedro Neto (knee), Jonny (knee) and Yerson Mosquera (thigh), with a slight chance that Fabio Silva will be back from Covid to make an appearance.
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