The sight of Mo Salah limping to the sidelines on Wednesday night sent my Twitter feed into meltdown. The Liverpool star is owned by almost two-thirds of all managers in the official game [or 3,649,142 if you prefer] and given his outstanding form this season, it’s easy to understand why. Fortunately, his withdrawal appears to be more of a precaution, but whether Jurgen Klopp decides to risk his prize asset in the Merseyside derby is another matter. The Reds take on Manchester City in the second-leg of their Champions League clash just three days later, and despite a 3-nil lead, the tie is still along way from being over.
For those who prefer not to take a chance, you could look to Harry Kane who will be hoping to make his first start since recovering from the ankle injury he suffered last month. The Tottenham talisman enjoyed a surprise cameo from the bench at Stamford Bridge and is well-positioned for a place in the starting XI following a full week of training. Kane also has the appeal of a double game week coming up.
Some tough decisions lie ahead as the season accelerates towards the home straight.
Everton – vs – Liverpool
Sam Allardyce confirms Idrissa Gana Gueye will be available for the early kick-off. The influential midfielder, who suffered a hamstring problem before the international break, took part in a full training on Friday. No other changes in the Toffees treatment room – Glyfi Sigurdsson, Mason Holgate, James McCarthy, Eliaquim Mangala – remain out long-term but Ashley Williams comes back into contention after completing a three-match ban following his dismissal against Burnley.
"We [will] try everything," to ensure Mo Salah is available for tomorrow’s game. "[There is] still 24 hours to go. So, let's see..." but Klopp won't play his star man just because it's a derby: "If he's a doubt, he will not be involved. If they are not 100 percent, they cannot be involved." Danny Ings is in with a chance of making his first Premier League start since October 2015: "Thank God Danny is here and in a good shape. I wouldn't guarantee [a start] but his chances don't look too bad." The Liverpool boss describes the current injury situation as "difficult" and wouldn't be drawn on his side for Saturday: "We want to wait a little bit [as] we have a few hours until we go to the hotel. You will see who is available [or not] when you see the line-up." Ragnar Klavan and Nathaniel Clyne will be hoping to force their way into the starting XI after stepping up their recovery from injury in recent weeks. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Adam Lallana and Emre Can are ruled out.
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Crystal Palace
Eddie Howe confirms Junior Stanislas won’t play again in 2017/18: "He picked up a serious knee injury against Watford, so we're looking at pre-season or the start of [next] to get him back, we're not sure yet." There were concerns that the winger may have ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, but tests reveal "it's an anterior injury, lateral meniscus - the better of the two evils - he has already had surgery.” Adam Smith is also out: “He's made good progress and we're pleased with how he's getting on. We hope to get him back before the end of the season. Simon Francis has had a day's light training, so it will have to be a very late call on him." Lys Mousset comes into contention after missing out last weekend due to illness.
Roy Hodgson bemoans his luck following another injury: "I could combine my Premier League experiences at Fulham, West Brom and Liverpool and still not have had as many injuries as I've had here." The Eagles boss was dealt a further blow on Thursday morning when Christian Benteke limped out of training due to a groin problem. Alexander Sørloth [hamstring] and Connor Wickham [groin] have both suffered setbacks: "No one new is back, so the squad will be thinner, if he doesn't make it." When pressed on whether Benteke could feature, he replied: "I have just spoken to the doctor to ask how he rates his chances. He said, he would rather not say at this stage, so if he is not prepared to do that, then I am certainly not in a position to either." James Tomkins has not recovered from a calf problem while Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon remain out long-term.
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Huddersfield Town
Dale Stephens [hamstring] remains a doubt for Saturday, but everyone else [apart from Steve Sidwell] has trained and will be available. "We are obviously getting very close now - but we'll give him every opportunity." Anthony Knockaert serves the second of his three-match ban.
Elias Kachunga will have surgery on Monday after suffering ankle ligament damage at Newcastle last weekend. "He will be back for the start of pre-season." Danny Williams and Michael Hefele are the only Huddersfield players sidelined through injury.
Leicester City – vs – Newcastle United
Matty James has been ruled out of the run-in. The Leicester midfielder had surgery on his Achilles meaning he won't return until pre-season: "It is not a big problem, but he now needs patience and time to recover," confirmed Claude Puel. Wilfred Ndidi is suspended following his sending-off [two bookable offences] at Brighton and he will miss the next two-games as this was his second dismissal of the campaign. "We have three solutions with Vicente Iborra, Adrien Silva and Hamza Choudhury. We will see for Saturday. We cannot replace Wilfred's attributes, but we can with a collective response." Daniel Amartey is hoping to rejoin the group in training from next week. A hamstring strain has kept him sidelined since the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at the beginning of March.
Joselu is back in training following an ankle sprain but Islam Slimani is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement. "We don't have any [injury] problems, so more or less everyone is available." Mo Diame has recovered from the knock which forced him off [vs Huddersfield] and Rob Elliot is over his recent back problem, although he now sits behind Martin Dúbravka and Karl Darlow in the pecking order. Jesus Gamez is unlikely to be included as he lacks fitness after ankle surgery.
Stoke City – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Kurt Zouma trained on Thursday after missing the defeat at Arsenal because of a knee problem. Mame Diouf picked up a knock at The Emirates and Paul Lambert "will be keeping an eye" on both players. Charlie Adam serves the second game of his 3-match ban. Eric Choupo-Moting [groin] is likely to be a few more weeks while a fractured rib will keep Konstantinos Stafylidis on the sidelines. Kevin Wimmer continues to build fitness with the U23s. Ibrahim Afellay has been suspended following an internal disciplinary matter and will not feature again this season.
Harry Winks is still hoping to play a part in the remaining games after receiving injections to try and reduce ankle inflammation. Tottenham prefer a more conservative approach to his treatment at this stage and deny any suggestion that the young midfielder is set for surgery. Harry Kane is pushing for a start: "He is okay after playing nearly 20 minutes against Chelsea. This week was good, he is working hard. We need to see him in one more training session, but he is doing very good.” Kyle Walker-Peters won’t be involved as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Watford – vs – Burnley
Christian Kabasele is close to making the matchday squad: "He has been training with the team this week,” said Javi Gracia. “He is in full training. We will see if he is available at the last moment.” The Watford coach is "confident" Gerard Deulofeu [fractured metatarsal] can play again before the end of the season but Nathaniel Chalobah is still "trying to recover" as he continues his rehab away from the main group. Craig Cathcart is expected to be heavily involved during the run-in after returning from injury: "He is available. I think he is very happy because he is back with the team and he wants to help us in these last six games.” Miguel Britos is back after missing the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth because of illness.
Sean Dyche confirms goalkeeper Tom Heaton is in contention after almost seven months out. "He's going really well and feeling really good at the moment." Saturday comes too soon for Scott Arfield [calf] and Jon Walters [knee] while Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be assessed: "He is touch and go, but at this stage we’ll probably err on the side of caution unless he comes in and says he's absolutely clear." Ben Mee has picked up a knock "so we'll see how that settles down overnight."
West Bromwich Albion – vs – Swansea City
Still no Daniel Sturridge for the Baggies but he is "making real progress". The on-loan Liverpool striker has been sidelined since February after tweaking his hamstring [vs Chelsea]. Nacer Chadli is back in full training and could make the 18 as new caretaker manager Darren Moore takes charge of his first game following Alan Pardew's departure. Gareth Barry will have knee surgery on Monday and is unlikely to play again this season.
Carlos Carvalhal confirms Sam Clucas "is ready" for Saturday "one hundred per cent". There were concerns that he could miss the remainder of the season after twisting his knee and limping off at Old Trafford. Angel Rangel returned to full training on Wednesday following groin surgery, but he will need more time to build fitness. No fresh injury concerns. Wilfried Bony and Leroy Fer are out, but Renato Sanches should return to Swansea next week after rehabbing in Munich. "Last time we talked he said he would be back on the 10th of this month. After, we will see how long [before] he is ready to play." Jordan Ayew serves the final game of his ban.
Manchester City – vs – Manchester United
Pep will check on Sergio Aguero in the final training session on Friday afternoon. "I don't know right now, we will see his physical condition," he said in response to questions about the Argentine’s availability. The City boss may consider resting players despite knowing a win will secure the Premier League title: "When we have four massive games, and just three days between them, we have to be careful. We are going to see tomorrow morning what is the best team." John Stones and Fabian Delph are hoping for minutes after returning to the matchday squad on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho says "it’s been a good week" in terms of his sides preparations for the derby. "I would say normal – no midweek match or Champions League for us - so more time to train." The United manager reveals he has a fully fit squad to choose from for Saturday, with the only exception being Sergio Romero, who is out with a knee injury. The goalkeeper is expected to be missing for a "few weeks” following a collision with Diego Costa when playing for Argentina. Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera have trained fully, while Daley Blind re-joined the group on Friday morning.
Arsenal – vs – Southampton
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still being assessed after limping off in the Europa League with a knee injury: "He will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon." said Arsène Wenger. David Ospina is hoping to be back before the end of this month: "The scan was reassuring. He will be out for 2-3 weeks. On Wednesday we were scared for a very serious injury. He just moved back on a shot and sprained his ankle, without any contact. It was a bad movement." Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also sidelined: "He might be back for Moscow."
Mark Hughes expects a reaction from his side following the defeat at West Ham: "We need to be more resilient when momentum goes against us. I’ve told them this week what is acceptable in games and what isn’t. We’ve got to go there and get a positive result. The bare minimum is a good performance." Stephen Davis is back in contention, and as such, the Saints can boast a full complement of players after Mario Lemina trained after illness.
Chelsea – vs – West Ham United
Thibaut Courtois [hamstring], Davide Zappacosta and Pedro "could" feature on Sunday - all three players have trained. No David Luiz [knee] though or Ethan Ampadu [ankle] who has been ruled out for the season. Ross Barkley is hoping to force his way into Antonio Conte's plans following his hour long run out for the U23s last weekend.
Manuel Lanzini is expected to miss the game: "He's got a medial ligament injury. He's able to run in straight lines at the minute. I wouldn't completely rule him out but he's a doubt," confirmed David Moyes. Michail Antonio is set for surgery: "He's going to have an operation on his hamstring and the biggest thing now is to get him ready for next season. We'll miss his strength and pace. He picked up a hamstring injury at the end of last season and has never really recovered from it." Javier Hernandez is over his recent bout of illness but James Collins [hamstring] could miss out again. Andy Carroll is closest of those injured long-term: "I hope he will be available for the final four or five games, even if it is off the bench."