Here we go: The EPL’s 100-day coronavirus pause is finally about to come to an end! Project Restart kicks off in just a matter of hours, with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City, and Sheffield United playing the games-in-hand they hold due to previous schedule interruptions caused by the FA Cup. The weekend then brings us a full slate of ten games involving all twenty clubs.
The hiatus has extended a lifeline to many players who thought their seasons had been ended by injury. With the campaign now extended into late July, many players have been able to recover in time to feature for the delayed run-in.
Initially this created a bit of a conundrum. In February, clubs were required to submit their 25-man squad lists for the season’s second half, and many important players who had suffered injuries that were thought to have ended their seasons were naturally left off those rosters.
With the campaign now extended an extra two months to accommodate the restart, some of those players have recovered in time to feature before the curtain finally falls on this campaign. Recognizing this, the league has granted special dispensation for injured players to be re-registered back onto their clubs’ rosters. This decision comes as a huge boost for clubs that are battling against relegation or for European tournament positions.
The suspension of play means we haven’t heard many status reports from EPL managers since March, but with matches now about to resume, team news is flowing once again. We’ve condensed it all into the following club-by-club report, and of course any updates will be reported in real time in the comments section.
It’s crunch time again, so let’s get after it!
Double Game-Week Teams
We should have the benefit of press conferences, hopefully including up-to-the-minute injury news, ahead of both of tomorrow’s games. Even better, we should have confirmed starting lineups for the AVL-SHU match in time to make roster adjustments before the Fantrax buzzer sounds.
Callum Chambers is back to light training after suffering a knee injury before the New Year, but given his extended absence he may not be ready to feature just yet.
Cedric Soares suffered a broken nose in training and has not featured in either of Arsenal’s pre-restart friendlies (or any of their matches prior to the shutdown, for that matter). Further, Arsenal have not been able to agree a short term loan extension beyond June 30, so it looks like the German’s time at the Emirates could be all but over. Hector Bellerin, anyone?
Wesley and Tom Heaton remain unavailable after both players ruptured knee ligaments in the New Year’s Day victory over Burnley. In fact, since they were not re-registered into Villa’s second-half squad list after the league made revisions possible, their EPL seasons are effectively over.
While John McGinn is fit again, fantasy managers who are eyeing him should be aware that Dean Smith said yesterday “We have to manage him appropriately after his injury and we will do so.”
The Citizens have no injury concerns heading into the DGW. Good news for Pep, but bad news for fantasy managers trying to anticipate his lineups.
Like City, SHU enter the DGW with a fully-fit squad.
Single Game-Week Teams
Since the earliest of these matches kicks off on Friday, it is unlikely we’ll have pre-game press conferences from any of these clubs in time to guide our fantasy roster selections. For fantasy managers, then, it’ll be buyer beware!
Jose Izquierdo remains sidelined with a serious knee injury.
Phillip Billing is a doubt after picking up an ankle issue in training ahead of the restart. Charlie Daniels is still out of commission with a dislocated patella.
Ashley Barnes used the COVID hiatus to fully recover from the hernia surgery he underwent back in January. However, Sean Dyche says the player is still some weeks away from attaining match fitness. Chris Wood and Johan Berg-Gudmundsson both picked up calf issues in the lead-up to the restart and are doubts for GW 30. Ben Gibson remains estranged from the club and appears to have no future in a Claret shirt.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has recovered from his ankle and hamstring issues (and from COVID), but has not played a competitive match in over four months. Reece James suffered a knock in training but is expected to be available on Sunday. Jorginho will serve the second game of a two-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Roy Hodgson has no injury worries apart from loanee Cenk Tosun, who returned to Goodison Park after suffering a serious knee injury in early March.
Morgan Schneiderlin continues his recovery from knee surgery and is unavailable. Yerry Mina (torn quad), Fabian Delph (muscle), and Jean Philippe Gbamin (calf) suffered injuries while ramping up their training ahead of the restart. Gbamin’s injury is particularly bad; reportedly he will require surgery that will sideline him for an extended period. Carlo Ancelotti says the other two men are also serious doubts. Theo Walcott underwent abdominal surgery last Monday and will be out of commission for another three weeks.
Daniel Amarty and Ricardo Pereira remain unavailable through long-term injuries. Ayoze Perez is a doubt after picking up a muscle issue in training, as is Ryan Bennet who is struggling with a sore ankle.
Nathaniel Clyne and Xherdan Shaqiri continue to recover from long-term injuries.
In comments made to United’s website, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reported no injury concerns but stressed the importance of substitutions and rotation in the midst of Project Restart’s fixture congestion.
In a boost for Newcastle’s EPL survival hopes, Paul Dummet is fully recovered and fit, and was re-registered onto the Magpie’s squad list. Both of the Longstaff brothers (Matty and Sean) recently picked up minor muscle issues in training, but Steve Bruce expects them to recover in time for Sunday’s visit of Sheffield United. Jetro Willems remains unavailable due to a long-term ACL injury.
The relegation-threatened Canaries are surely happy to enter the restart with a fully-fit side. However, the latest round of routine league-wide COVID-19 testing returned two positive results on Saturday, one of which was confirmed to be an unnamed Norwich player. That man is now in a seven day period of self-isolation and will therefore miss Friday’s visit of the Saints.
Ralph Hassenhuttl has no injury concerns ahead of GW 30, but Moussa Djenepo will begin the first game of a three-match ban for a red card he was shown in the final match before the coronavirus shutdown.
Jose Mourinho will be without Japhet Tanganga, who has a stress fracture in his back, and Troy Parrot, who underwent an appendectomy on May 30. Dele Alli will also miss out because the FA meted out a 1-match ban (and a £50,000 fine) for an insensitive video he posted on Snapchat back in February.
(Side note: The Norwich player who tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday had played against Spurs in the friendly at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the day before.)
Gerard Deolufeu, who suffered a serious knee injury in late February, and Daryl Janmaat, who is also dealing with a knee issue, are the only names on Nigel Pearson’s disabled list.
The Hammers enter the restart free of injuries.
Nuno Espirito Santo has no injury concerns heading into GW 30.
How many double-game week players are in your squads? Which single-gamers are you fielding? Are you taking any risky punts on under-the-radar differentials you hope will pay off? Are you playing any FPL chips this week? Have some team news to share? Please join us in the comments and let us know!
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