IT’S the transfer window as well as the Asian Cup with the African Nations approaching so team news is vital ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
An interesting capture has seen Jermain Defoe join Sunderland and as luck would have it he is line to make his debut – from the start or off the bench – at former club Spurs.
Aston Villa v Liverpool
New signing Carles Gil goes straight into the Aston Villa squad after signing from Valencia this week. Fabian Delph also returns to boost Villa after completing a three-match ban but Ciaran Clark serves a one-game suspension following his dismissal in last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leicester. Boss Paul Lambert remains without three injured players in Ron Vlaar (knee), Philippe Senderos (thigh) and Libor Kozak (leg).
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and fellow midfielder Adam Lallana have a chance of being fit. Gerrard was withdrawn at half-time of Saturday’s win at Sunderland with a tight hamstring while Lallana is ahead of schedule in his return from a thigh injury sustained on New Year’s Day. Forward Raheem Sterling is back in the squad after a being given a week off while youngster Jordon Ibe could join him having been recalled early from a loan spell at Derby.
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Burnley boss Sean Dyche is hoping defensive duo Kieran Trippier and Jason Shackell will be fit. Trippier felt his hamstring during Wednesday’s FA Cup loss to Spurs, a game captain Shackell missed with a calf problem. Kevin Long (knee), Stephen Ward (ankle) and Matt Taylor (Achilles) are all sidelined.
Loan signing Yaya Sanogo could make his Palace debut but the Arsenal striker will face competition to start up front from fit-again Marouane Chamakh, while midfielder James McArthur has beaten his foot problem. New Palace boss Alan Pardew has no fresh injury concerns and could hand Wilfried Zaha a start at Turf Moor.
Leicester v Stoke
New signing Andrej Kramaric has secured a work permit and is in contention to face Stoke if the red tape is cleared. Matty James is suspended after his dismissal in last week’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa while Kasper Schmeichel, Matt Upson (both foot), Jeff Schlupp (knee) and Riyad Mahrez (African Nations Cup) are also unavailable. Boss Nigel Pearson also has severe doubts surrounding Dean Hammond (calf) and Esteban Cambiasso (hip) but Danny Drinkwater is poised to return after missing the last two games with a groin problem.
Full-back Erik Pieters is a doubt but midfielder Steven Nzonzi should be available for Stoke. Both players came off at half-time with groin complaints during last Sunday’s 3-0 loss at Arsenal where Victor Moses returned to the matchday squad as an unused substitute and looks set to make his playing comeback this weekend following a thigh injury. Forward Mame Biram Diouf remains on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal.
Newcastle v Southampton
Midfielders Mehdi Abeid (foot), Siem de Jong and Gabriel Obertan (both thigh) and Rolando Aarons (hamstring) are all on the comeback trail for Newcastle, although none are expected to make the squad this weekend. Jonas Gutierrez continues his battle for fitness after recovering from testicular cancer while keepers Rob Elliot (thigh) and Jak Alnwick (shoulder), defender Steven Taylor (Achilles), utility man Ryan Taylor (knee) and striker Adam Armstrong (foot) are still out. Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse are away on African Nations Cup duty.
Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin and Toby Alderweireld are among those missing for Southampton. Wanyama will miss up to five weeks with a hamstring injury sustained in Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay at Ipswich – a match fellow defensive midfielder Schneiderlin missed with an adductor strain which also rules him out of the St James’ Park trip. Alderweireld is sidelined with a hamstring strain, seeing him join Sam Gallagher and Jay Rodriguez in the treatment room, while Maya Yoshida, Sadio Mane and Emmanuel Mayuka have international commitments.
QPR v Manchester United
Midfielder Niko Kranjcar has recovered from thigh trouble but Armand Traore will miss out with a toe problem. Sandro (knee) and Yun Suk-young (ankle) are both still sidelined. Unsettled attacking midfielder Adel Taarabt could feature again after coming in from the cold for QPR’s 2-1 defeat at Burnley last weekend.
Robin van Persie has a slim chance of playing after Louis van Gaal revealed the Manchester United striker only suffered a “minor” ankle injury against Southampton last weekend. If van Persie is ruled out either Radamel Falcao or James Wilson will come into the starting XI. Defenders Rafael (cheekbone) and Marcos Rojo (thigh) are in contention after recovering from their respective injuries but wing-back Ashley Young is unavailable because of a hamstring problem.
Swansea v Chelsea
Swansea start life without Wilfried Bony with manager Garry Monk having told Bafetimbi Gomis he is now the main striker at the club. Gomis will lead the forward line and on-loan Portuguese striker Nelson Oliveira is now the back-up striker following Bony’s midweek departure to Manchester City. Swansea are short of midfield numbers as Jonjo Shelvey completes a four-match suspension and Ki Sung-yueng is away on international duty but Gylfi Sigurdsson (foot) should play and winger Jefferson Montero could make the bench after making a quicker than expected recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered on Boxing Day.
Thibaut Courtois could return for Chelsea. The Belgium keeper has been on the bench for the past two matches after sustaining a finger injury on New Year’s Day against Tottenham but is able to come back in for Petr Cech. Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta remains sidelined with a groin complaint but is set to return to training next week.
Spurs v Sunderland
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is likely to welcome back a host of first-team regulars. Spurs made seven changes for their FA Cup third-round replay win over Burnley on Wednesday night and the likes of Harry Kane, Federico Fazio, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris should all return against the Black Cats. Pochettino also confirmed Emmanuel Adebayor will be in his squad having not played since November whilst Erik Lamela (calf) and Ryan Mason (hamstring) are doubtful with Nabil Bentaleb away on international duty with Algeria.
Jermain Defoe could be handed a Sunderland debut at former club Spurs after completing his move from Toronto. The 32-year-old England international is included in the squad after signing a three-and-a-half-year deal with Jozy Altidore heading in the opposite direction and will be joined by fit-again frontman Steven Fletcher following his recovery from a groin problem. However, central midfielder Liam Bridcutt is suspended after his sending-off against Liverpool last weekend and natural replacement Lee Cattermole is still out with a groin injury, as is full-back Anthony Reveillere, who needs another week to shake off an Achilles problem.
Manchester City v Arsenal (Sun)
Manchester City playmaker Samir Nasri faces three to four weeks on the sidelines after suffering a calf injury in training this week. The problem will rule the Frenchman out of the clash with his former club. Midfielder Yaya Toure is on international duty at the African Nations Cup but manager Manuel Pellegrini has declared all other players fit and in contention, including captain Vincent Kompany and strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs is likely to return. Gibbs has been suffering with a heel problem but is expected to be passed fit, while Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil are also in contention after coming off the bench against Stoke last Sunday. Danny Welbeck (thigh), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), Mikel Arterta (ankle) and Abou Diaby (calf) are all ruled out.
West Ham v Hull (Sun)
Winston Reid (ankle) missed West Ham’s FA Cup third-round replay win over Everton on Tuesday but is now back in training as is full-back Guy Demel who has been sidelined since the turn of the year with a muscle problem. That means only top scorer Diafra Sakho (back) and Cheikhou Kouyate (international duty) are definite absentees.
Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez will return to training ahead of Hull’s trip to east London to offer manager Steve Bruce some hope of solving his striker crisis. Bruce saw strike pair Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez injured in the 1-0 defeat at West Brom last weekend with both out for several weeks. Andy Robertson (ankle), Liam Rosenior (hamstring), and Mohamed Diame (knee) remain out.
Everton v West Brom (Mon)
Everton winger Aiden McGeady is suspended after being sent off in the FA Cup defeat at West Ham. Defender Tony Hibbert is the closest to a return of those currently injured while Sylvain Distin (groin) also has a chance of making the squad. Midfielders James McCarthy (hamstring) and Darron Gibson (knee) are not too far away from being available for selection.
Jonas Olsson remains sidelined for West Brom but the defender could be back in two weeks after returning to light training following an Achilles problem and Jason Davidson is with Australia for the Asian Cup.