The pre-match press conferences for Blank Gameweek 28 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) have begun to take place.
As usual, we’ll be bringing you all the key quotes and injury updates that you need for your teams over the coming 24 hours or so.
Six Premier League bosses are to hold pressers on Thursday, while Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper was quick off the mark with a Wednesday briefing.
As many as seven more Gameweek 28 pre-match press conferences are set to come on Friday.
Half a dozen clubs – Manchester United, Manchester United, Liverpool, Fulham, West Ham United and Brighton and Hove Albion – are without a Premier League fixture this weekend due to the clash with the FA Cup quarter-finals.
KEY UPDATES FROM THURSDAY
THURSDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE TIMES
Anthony Gordon (ankle) and Emil Krafth (knee) remain out, while Joelinton serves the second match of a two-game ban.
In his pre-match presser, Eddie Howe perhaps ominously warned about “knocks” and some players missing training this week.
“Similar to last week – we’ve got a couple of knocks. Intense game last week, really intense physically, so we’ve been managing and nursing a few players. We’ll wait and see who’s fit.
“Nothing major, hopefully. A few players have missed training this week but we hope to have the majority of players available.” – Eddie Howe
Howe added that even a Gameweek 29 appearance for Gordon will be a tough ask.
“That’s the plan [to get Gordon back for Gameweek 29]. We’re trying. The scan wasn’t plain sailing, it wasn’t a shoo-in. It wasn’t a week or two injury.
“It’s slightly more serious than that, so we’re doing everything we can to get him back as quickly as possible. At the moment he’s in a period where he’s staying off the grass, staying off his feet, and the injury’s healing. It feels good, but he’s got work to do to get ready for that game.” – Eddie Howe
The Newcastle boss made an uncharacteristic five changes to his starting XI last weekend, including benching Miguel Almiron and recalling Alexander Isak, and discussed his rotation on Thursday.
“I think it’s vital that you have the opportunity to do that from time to time. It’s a long season with cups and Premier League etc, and also the way that we play is demanding, as I’ve said before. We ask a lot of our players physically, so it’s nice to be able to pull someone back, give them a chance to reset and then bring them back into the team.
“Everyone will have their own opinions, of course, on the team, and when you bring a player out for their own physical needs, sometimes that can be over-hyped. But for me, it’s just a natural process of the season.
“As I said before [Isak] got the concussion, he was in really, really good form in training and I was desperate to see him execute that on the pitch, and I felt he did that against Wolves. I thought he was outstanding in every respect. Physically he was very very good, technically very good, and his goal… I still enjoy watching that even now, a week after. Hopefully it’s the start of a really good run for him.
“I think he’s a different player to anyone we have in the squad. He has really good versatility to his game – I think he could do a bit of everything, which is a great asset for us to have in our frontline. I think he brings a different dimension, but every player has their own strengths and uniqueness which makes the team slightly different.” – Eddie Howe
Steve Cooper said that Brennan Johnson (groin) was “unlikely” to face Newcastle on Friday, although he didn’t completely rule out the prospect of that happening and we know from experience that Cooper can be economical with the truth.
“He had his scan. It’s unlikely that he will be involved at the weekend but he has a small chance.
“We’re not completely ruling him out, but when you walk off with a muscle injury it can take a bit longer than a week to recover.” – Steve Cooper on Brennan Johnson, speaking on Wednesday
Loanee Chris Wood is ineligible to face his parent club, while Willy Boly (hamstring), Scott McKenna (hamstring), Dean Henderson (thigh), Giulian Biancone (ACL) and Omar Richards (leg) remain unavailable.
Wayne Hennessey (knee) will also have a fresh problem assessed but Cheikhou Kouyate (hamstring) and Taiwo Awoniyi (groin) should be much closer to involvement after recent returns to training.
Tyler Adams (hamstring), Adam Forshaw (hip) and Stuart Dallas (knee) are on the sidelines but Liam Cooper (muscle) is fit again after a month on the sidelines.