Premier League Press Conference Round-Up: Gameweek 18

In the latest of our weekly series, we’ll be bringing you the important news from every Premier League press conference that impacts your Fantasy Premier League team selection for FPL Gameweek 18.

As usual, feel free to give myself (FPL Connect) a tweet if you find there are any problems with this article.

All the best for Gameweek 18 everyone – let’s do this.

Sheffield United

The Blades will be without the suspended John Fleck on Saturday, he is the only absentee.

“We’re in fantastic shape, really good. We make it competitive in training from Monday to Friday. It’s brilliant when they all come through unscathed. We’ve lost John (Fleck) through suspension but we have some brilliant cover to come in.”

In other news, Chris Wilder has also confirmed that former Everton and Sunderland midfielder, Jack Rodwell, is training with Sheffield United and admitted a January deal is possible. 

“We’re looking at him. He’s looking at us. It’s something that might develop, We’re looking at a couple of signings to help us after January. We need to be strong, have cover and some competition within the squad.”

Bournemouth

Joshua King is a doubt for Saturday’s Premier League game with Burnley, after limping out of his return to the first team at Stamford Bridge. Andrew Surman is also a doubt after picking up a calf problem.

We have concerns on a few players and we’ll make some very late calls on them. Joshua King went off last week with a twisted ankle so we’ll see how he is, Andrew Surman picked up a calf problem from the game, so we’ll see how he is.

Have we got any returns for the game from previous weeks? No, I don’t think so, we’re pretty much as we were. We’re stretched at the moment, that’s been well documented, but we’re still hopeful that a lot of the players with the longer-term injuries are making good progress, but they’re not going to be ready short term.”

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Howe on Diego Rico:

“I think Diego’s done really well, possibly last week was up there with one of his best performances for us. Last year he had certain areas to improve and he went about his work really well.”

Brighton

Graham Potter has confirmed that Aaron Connolly has trained this week and will be fit and available for selection after recovering from injury.

Dale Stephens also returns from his one-game suspension. The only two absentees for the game on Saturday will be Solly March and Jose Izquierdo.

“Aaron Connolly should be ready for the weekend, he’s trained this week. We have no other problems from Monday and of course Dale Stephens back too. It’s just Solly March and Jose Izquierdo out.”

Burnley

Sean Dyche has confirmed that Charlie Taylor and Keven Long are available for selection for the away trip to Bournemouth.

Ben Gibson (groin), Chris Wood (achilles) and Ashley Westwood (groin) are doubtful while Johann Berg Gudmundsson is making good progress in terms of his recovery but he is most likely going to play for the U23s this weekend.

We have better news coming, Charlie Taylor, Kevin Long, Johann (Berg Gudmundsson) we hope will get some minutes, so better news, and monitoring the ones we have to keep an eye on to make sure they stay fit. Charlie Taylor and Kevin Long trained all week. Ben Gibson had a niggly groin, doubt he’ll make it. Chris Wood has a knock on his Achilles, we’ll see how he is. Ashely Westwood has a tight groin. Johann (Berg Gudmundsson) got through 60 minutes in a reserve game. We have an U23 game Saturday (against Birmingham City), hopefully he’ll get 90.

Southampton

Winger Moussa Djenepo will miss Southampton’s trip to Aston Villa this weekend with a hamstring injury.

Sofiane Boufal is also a doubt for GW18. Ralph Hasenhüttl also revealed that a couple of his players are suffering from illness, with Kevin Danso missing two days of training with a fever while Yan Valery will be out until the new year as he still suffers from a viral infection.

“Moussa has problems with his hamstring and the risk is too big. He didn’t train this week. Maybe next week he’ll start again but only if there’s a reduced risk. We don’t take the risk. We have a lot of games over Christmas so it’s important that he get’s 100% fit.

Boufal is still not in team training. He has still some issues with some movements. So still not able to train with us, but it’s getting better and better and I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We have to wait for him. Maybe he’ll be in the squad at the weekend. Maybe he can train tomorrow. We will try it again and have a look.”

Watford

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Nigel Pearson should be able to call on the services of Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra for the big game with Manchester United on Sunday but Jose Holebas remains unavailable.

Masina and Pereyra have trained and we’ll see how they are over the next few days. Holebas won’t be available and for the long-termers (Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Sebastian Prödl, Daryl Janmaat) there is no change really. They are making good progress and we are pleased with how they are developing.”

The manager also spoke about 18 year old Joao Pedro, who has recently joined the club from Fluminense in Brazil:

“Hopefully he will have a positive impact, it’s important for him to settle in and it’s important we don’t heap too much pressure on a player of such young years. We know he is keen to get started and I’m sure he’ll get a warm welcome and get support from the players and the club. Let’s concentrate on the first-team squad who need to go out and find results in the meantime. We are pleased to have him here and it’s important we don’t heap too much pressure on a young player.”

Newcastle United

Steve Bruce has mentioned that Miguel Almirón and Jonjo Shelvey have a chance of returning in Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace. However, Allan Saint-Maximin, Ki Sung-yueng, Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles are still unavailable.

“Almirón and Shelvey have a chance. It’s still too early for (Allan) Saint-Maximin and Ki (Sung-yueng), and Ciaran Clark is still struggling. Matt Ritchie and (Jamaal) Lascelles are not there either, but from what we had last week, Almirón and Jonjo have got a chance. They both trained yesterday, so speaking at the moment – we haven’t seen them just yet – they both seemed OK yesterday. I wouldn’t take a risk if I didn’t think they were right.

I think the risk would have been last week, so it’s let them recover. With a muscle (injury), you’re always on edge, but we think they’ve done enough in the gym and enough rehabilitation work this week to make sure that they are OK. The big risk would have been playing them last weekend.

The manager also mentioned that he is happy with Almiron despite the lack of goals this season.

“I understand that he hasn’t scored, and I think even after speaking to a lot of people, he lit up last year in January when he arrived. He gave the impetus to the team and really, nothing has changed in that respect as far as I’m concerned. He’s a smashing player, who we all enjoy playing in the team.

Look, we’d love him to score a few more goals – of course we would. But he works every day as if it’s his last, he comes in, he’s a wonderful professional, a great lad, a good player, so I’ve got no problems with Almirón because of what he gives the team and the threat he causes. If he can add a few goals to it, great, but at the moment I’m very, very pleased with him.”

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has mentioned that Diogo Dalot is stepping up his return to fitness. The Portuguese defender will appear in an Under-19s friendly against AC Milan at Leigh Sports Village on Friday night.

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He also added that Paul Pogba has started training with the team and that he should soon be available for selection.

“Diogo is playing tonight and getting more game-time, to get more and more ready. Paul [Pogba] is training. He’s back in with the team so we’ll see how long it takes for him to feel ready to be part of a game. It’s a similar squad to what we’ve had the last few weeks.”

When asked if his squad was ready for the hectic Christmas schedule, the manager had this to say:

I feel the squad is ready for it, we’re physically ready for it and, mentally, we’re in a good moment as we’re getting some decent results. The fitness of many players, they’re coming back and we’re getting more and more competition for places. It’s important and why we’re rotating. We’re getting players back in training and it’s, more or less, a full squad training now. That’s good to see. Who is match fit and who isn’t is a different scenario.

Aston Villa

Keinan Davis has not fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in the Carabao Cup in October.

Tyrone Mings is progressing but won’t be considered for Saturday. Jed Steer still has another two months of rehab before a possible return from an Achilles injury.

Crystal Palace

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to face Newcastle United, Roy Hodgson had good and bad news for Palace fans.

Firstly, the Eagles manager revealed that Patrick van Aanholt could well be fit to play at St James’ Park. He said: 

“Patrick van Aanholt has started training with us again, so that’s very positive. We will see if he can play tomorrow. But if he can it will be a major boost because that’s been a problem position for us in the time he has been out.”

However, in what has been a tough festive period, especially in terms of defensive injuries, Hodgson may well not be able to call upon Scott Dann for the Magpies clash. He said: 

“We suffered a setback in training this morning with Scott Dann going for a scan this afternoon. It might just be a little scare that you sometimes get in training sessions.

Otherwise, our injury list is as it were. If Scott Dann can’t make it then it is worsened, with all injuries seemingly occurring in the same area of the field.”

Leicester City

Apart from long-term absentee Matty James (Achilles) – who is training – but lacks fitness; the Foxes has no other injury concerns ahead of the trip to Manchester City.

“He’s in training with the squad every day, so he’s making excellent progress. He’s not quite at the stage yet where we can think about games.”

Tottenham Hotspur

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Wolves

Nuno Espirito Santo confirms that “everyone is fit” heading into the festive period, apart from Willy Boly. That suggests Morgan Gibbs-White is over the back problem which has hampered him over the last few months.

Adama Traore dislocated his shoulder against Tottenham last weekend. Nothing major – dealt with on the pitch by the medical team – he will be available for the game on Saturday.

Norwich City

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Teemu Pukki will be fit for Saturday, Farke confirms:

“Thankfully, nothing broken. Teemu is available, so that’s good news. Just a painful bruise, swelling has gone down.”

Ben Godfrey has been ruled out until Feb. The defender suffered an ACL tear – no surgery – but he will be sidelined for around 6 weeks:

“We have several options. Hanley has been in team training for ten days. We didn’t want to throw him in this quick. We also have Tettey and Amadou”

Chelsea

Frank Lampard reports that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is making good progress but is not close to being ready for selection yet. All the other players are fit and available for Sunday.

He also goes on to say that this week was important in terms of rest with no midweek fixture, as tiredness might have had an impact on their chance creation in the last game.

Everton

On injuries, Ferguson said: 

“One or two players have been training lightly. There’s still some sickness in the camp but I’m hopeful there’ll be a few added to the squad.”

Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sidibe (both illness) should be okay. Theo Walcott and Morgan Schneiderlin are still a week or two away, but Fabian Delph has been working lightly.

Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin remain out long-term. Lucas Digne (groin) is expected to miss out.

Manchester City

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Sergio Agüero and John Stones have trained:

“They have [had] two sessions.”

Pep confirms no David Silva this weekend however:

“Silva? No. There are a lot of games to play. The distance we have now can change in a few weeks. We try to prepare for the game tomorrow as best as possible.”

Arsenal

Update from the medical staff is as follows:

Hector Bellerin
Tight right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Everton (a).
 
Dani Ceballos
Left hamstring. Sustained during Vitoria SC (a) on November 6. Will miss Everton (a). Aiming to return to full training next week.
 
Rob Holding
Left knee. Bruising to knee. Being assessed ahead of Everton (a).
 
Sead Kolasinac
Right ankle. Ankle ligament injury sustained during Manchester City (h). Aiming to return to full training in January.
 
Mesut Ozil
Right foot. Sustained during Manchester City (h). Being assessed ahead of Everton (a).   
 
Kieran Tierney
Right shoulder. Dislocated right shoulder during West Ham United (a). Kieran had successful surgery this week and will now rehabilitate for around three months, aiming to return to full training in March.
 
Granit Xhaka
Available for selection after concussion sustained during West Ham United (a).

Mikel Arteta, a former club captain, has signed a three-and-half-year contract at the club he played at for five season from 2011 to 2016. 

“This is a huge honour. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that’s been made very clear to me in my discussions with Stan and Josh Kroenke, and the senior people from the club.

We all know there is a lot of work to be done to achieve that but I am confident we’ll do it. I’m realistic enough to know it won’t happen overnight but the current squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy.”

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