Thursday was a relatively quiet day on the pre-match press conference front, with just five managers facing the media.
Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, is scheduled to face reporters immediately after the EFL Cup semi-final second-leg tie against Liverpool on Thursday night, although the Gameweek 23 section of that conference call will likely be embargoed until Friday or later.
We’ve got from the fitness latest from Leeds United, Southampton, Watford, Brentford and Norwich City in this round-up – and was that a cheeky Double Gameweek 25 giveaway from Ralph Hasenhuttl?
First, the injury news from the Saints.
Alex McCarthy (hamstring), Tino Livramento (knee) and Will Smallbone (calf) remain out for the south coast club but are the only reported absentees, with Moi Elyounoussi (illness) and Theo Walcott (illness) rejoining training this week.
“Tino [Livramento] and Will Smallbone are the guys who are not training with the team, everybody else is training. Some coming back after the Covid-19 quarantine and back in training. So we have, in the moment, 20 outfield players on the pitch.
“Alex [McCarthy] is still out, not available in the moment after his injury. He still takes time to come back.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
As for the possible Double Gameweek 25 hint, Hasenhuttl may well have miscounted or could have been merely suggesting a hypothetical situation (hence “can be”) whereby their outstanding fixture against Newcastle gets accommodated in mid-February.
But it’s still a quote worth reporting, as it wouldn’t be the first time that a manager or club website has given the game away with regards to a Double Gameweek.
“A good time for recovery but also a good time for preparing for a very intense time, because it can be that we have five games in two weeks then.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl on the winter break
As we’re already down the rabbit hole of conjecture, Saints’ run could look something like this if there was any substance to their head coach’s comments:
- Feb 5: Coventry (FA Cup)
- Feb 9: Spurs (GW24)
- Feb 12: Man Utd (GW25)
- Feb 16: (Newcastle in DGW25??)
- Feb 19: Everton (GW26)
Junior Firpo (hamstring) and Adam Forshaw (hamstring) have joined Kalvin Phillips (hamstring), Liam Cooper (hamstring), Jamie Shackleton (Achilles), Charlie Cresswell (shoulder) and Sam Greenwood (knee) in the Leeds physio room ahead of the clash with Newcastle, while Patrick Bamford has picked up yet another problem – a foot injury, this time – just as he was about to recover from a recent muscle issue.
Marcelo Bielsa does have some fresh reinforcements, however, with Diego Llorente back from suspension and Tyler Roberts (muscle) and Joe Gelhardt (ankle) anticipated to make sooner-than-expected recoveries in time for the Magpies’ visit.
“Forshaw and Firpo have muscular injuries and Bamford has a new injury at the bottom of his foot. He’s overcome his muscular problems.
“It’s likely that for the game on the weekend we’re going to count on Tyler Roberts, Joe Gelhardt and Rodrigo Moreno. So the players out of the squad in that position are going to be Patrick [Bamford] and Greenwood.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Kwadwo Baah (ankle), Nicolas Nkoulou (hamstring), Peter Etebo (thigh) and Ismaila Sarr (knee) remain on the injury list ahead of Watford’s relegation six-pointer against Norwich, while Imran Louza, William Troost-Ekong and Adam Masina are all still away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Hornets reported no fresh injury concerns in their Gameweek 23 medical bulletin.
Thomas Frank confirmed that everybody who was in Brentford’s squad for their defeat to Manchester United last night will be available in Gameweek 23.
Josh Dasilva (hip) is still around four weeks away from a return, with David Raya (knee), Zanka (muscle) and Charlie Goode (hamstring) also on the injury list.
Dean Smith has confirmed that Tim Krul will miss Friday night’s trip to Watford having picked up a shoulder injury in the last match against Everton. The extent of the injury is not yet known, with the Netherlands international awaiting specialist test results.
“Tim Krul is out. He obviously hurt his shoulder, the ACL joints, in the last minute of the Everton win. Unfortunately we lose him. I am not sure on the time with him at the moment.” – Dean Smith
Lukas Rupp (hamstring), Andrew Omobamidele (back), Mathias Normann (pelvis) and Billy Gilmour (hamstring) remain on the injury list until Gameweek 24, while Christoph Zimmermann will feature for the under-23s on Friday as he builds up match fitness after five months on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Max Aarons (knock), Kenny McLean (illness) and Brandon Williams (cramp) have all been passed fit, however,
“Billy (Gilmour), (Mathias) Normann, (Lukas) Rupp and (Andrew) Omobamidele should all be back, I am hoping, for the next game which is Wolves [in the FA Cup].” – Dean Smith
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