Welcome to my first feature-length column for Rotoworld.com. You likely know my name from Twitter or my work from sites like PhysioRoom.com or radio spots on TalkSport and the like. Each week I'll be updating the injury status of players via news blurbs and the injury table here on the Rotoworld site culminating in this column each match week. My goal will be to summarize each club's injury situation and the implications for your fantasy selections. Let's get started because I have an entire summer of injuries to cover and fantasy transfer deadlines are getting closer with every passing minute.
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Manchester United – vs – Swansea
Louis van Gaal confirmed he could be missing up to nine players as Manchester United kick the 2014/15 British Premier League season into action against Swansea City. Dutch striker Robin van Persie has "no chance" of being available as he continues to work on his fitness with Sam Johnstone, Antonio Valencia, Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck all-out having failed to recover from various ailments although Rafael (groin) does return. Anderson (calf) and Michael Carrick (ankle) remain sidelined. Ashley Young could deputise for Luke Shaw (hamstring) who has been ruled out for up to a month.
Gary Monk will welcome back Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge who missed the clubs final preseason defeat to Villarreal last weekend; Dyer was absent as his wife went into labour with Routledge having an injection to combat foot pain. Summer signing Jefferson Montero will provide options out wide but Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton will all miss out with knee injuries. Rory Donnelly could miss up to three months after undergoing ankle surgery following an injury during preseason.
Leicester City – vs – Everton
Marc Albrighton is rated as very doubtful after picking up a groin injury during last weekend’s victory over Werder Bremen; he will be joined by Jamie Vardy (thigh) who has improved but Saturday is likely to come too soon for the player who scored 16 goals last term. However Anthony Knockaert looks to be a surprise inclusion after a return to full training on Thursday; the French wide man was pictured on crutches seven days ago with his ankle in a protective boot but has responded well to treatment. Matthew Upson is out after the defender underwent foot surgery.
Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman all returned to full training on Wednesday and manager Martinez will make a late decision on whether to involve the trio at the King Power Stadium. Coleman has worked well after his recent hamstring problem and despite Lukaku and Mirallas lacking match-fitness they could still play a part. Loan signing Christian Atsu should be playing “very soon;” the Chelsea loanee has been “keeping himself very fit.” New boy Muhamed Besic is a player to watch, the Everton manager was full of superlatives for the defensive midfielder describing him as the “complete” player with a “high degree of football intelligence” and the attributes to forge an "incredible" career
QPR – vs – Hull City
No injury concerns for Coach Harry Redknapp; Queens Park Rangers kick-off their return to the Premier League against Hull City on Saturday. New signings Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker and Jordan Mutch could all feature with the boss confirming Loic Remy is “likely” to be included after impressing in training. Adel Taarabt will miss out however; the player has not trained since his return from a loan spell in Italy.
Hull City travel to Loftus Road without the services of striker Shane Long who was sold late on Thursday to Southampton. Steve Bruce expects to have a fully fit squad to choose from however Yannick Sagbo (suspended) starts the first of his two game ban. Expect lots of change from Bruce during the early part of this season as the Tigers manager juggles domestic fixtures with a midweek Europa League campaign.
Stoke City – vs – Aston Villa
Pleasing news for Stoke boss Mark Hughes who is able to select from a fully fit squad meaning some of his senior players will miss out. Steven N’Zonzi will hope to build-upon his promising preseason form after a summer of speculation linking the midfielder with a move from the Britannia. New arrival Bojan Krkic has shone since signing from Barcelona but Hughes has asked supporters to remain patient as the forward adapts to his “new league”.
Paul Lambert promised a clean slate ahead of the new campaign handing former exiles Alan Hutton and Darren Bent the opportunity to prove their worth to the Villa cause. Bent recently returned from a disappointing loan spell at Fulham and after a solid preseason is “ready to impress and raring to go. I feel confident about what's ahead for me and the team." Remarkably Hutton hasn’t appeared for the Villains for over two years. Stand-out World Cup defender Ron Vlaar has proved his fitness and will be involved against Stoke; Joe Cole (thigh) will be assessed after he re-joined the group earlier this week.
West Bromich Albion – vs – Sunderland
Alan Irvine confirmed midfielder James Morrison (knee) and new boy Joleon Lescott will miss out this weekend although admittedly the Baggies may be forced to include players who are less than 100%. Gareth McAuley (calf) came through a development game earlier this week; he was joined by Stephane Sessegnon who returned late from international duty. Club-record signing Brown Ideye scored twice for the U21s during a 60-minute run-out but the striker is lacking fitness after visa issues delayed start at the club; Irvine confirmed “Brown is ahead of where we feared he might be, which is great news. Hopefully he’ll be able to play some part.”
Billy Jones will get an early opportunity to meet with his former employers providing he can recover from a hamstring injury, the full-back “is very close, touch and go.” Emanuele Giaccherini is expected to miss the first two games of the season with a minor groin strain but will remain in Gus Poyet’s thoughts after an impressive preseason and Jozy Altidore could feature following “a full week of proper training.”
West Ham United -- vs -- Tottenham Hotspur
Sam Allardyce confirmed his squad are carrying one / two knocks ahead of the Saturdays London derby against Spurs although at this stage the injuries aren’t thought to be serious enough to rule the players out. Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson is not expected to recover from a hamstring problem in time for the opener but defensive teammate Guy Demel looks set to return following his own muscular issues. Aaron Cresswell has recovered from a minor groin issue while Ravel Morrison is back in training following surgery but is still a few weeks away. Of the rest Andy Carroll (ankle) remains a long-term absentee while Matthew Jarvis joins him on the treatment table. Game week one will prove at least a week too early for new signing Enner Valencia who is still working on his fitness however recent addition Diafra Sakho could be included in the match-day squad; the former Metz striker confirmed he has been training for over a month.
Manual Pochettino faces an arduous task of whittling his massive squad down to eighteen players with up to eleven first team members reportedly up for sale. Belgium trio Moussa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Jan Vertonghen with be assessed in training on Friday; although none of the group have featured during the preseason following their late arrival from the World Cup. The same could be said of Brazilian midfielder Paulinho and Cameroonian Benoit Assou-Ekotto although the latter is not expected to feature. Kyle Walker could be a surprise inclusion; the defender has been struggling with an ongoing pelvic problem and Saturday would represent five months to the day since his last competitive game. Vlad Chiriches (back) and defensive partner Michael Dawson face a late fitness test.