As the Premier League returns following the conclusion of the World Cup, many clubs are sweating upon the fitness of key players, or having to start the hectic festive period working around their long-term injuries.
Big names like Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus have been ruled out of club fixtures for several months after picking up problems in Qatar, whilst others including Chelsea’s Armando Broja were hurt as clubs played friendlies to keep up their fitness during the six-week break.
Here’s a round-up of some of the biggest names unlikely to feature for their clubs during a busy pre- and post-Christmas period for fixtures across three competitions.
Armando Broja added to Chelsea’s injury list with an injury picked up against Aston Villa
Gabriel Jesus was forced out of Brazil’s World Cup with a knee injury that required surgery
It was a huge blow to Arsenal’s title charge when Gabriel Jesus was withdrawn with injury while representing Brazil at the World Cup – while it also hurt his nation’s chances as they fell at the quarter-final stage. Initial reaction suggested he would be out for at least three months after surgery on his knee.
The Gunners are currently working on getting Emile Smith Rowe back to match fitness after a period out of training with a groin issue. However, Martin Odegaard appears to be back after a scare, and it is not thought Ben White is ruled out of Arsenal games after his early World Cup exit.
Emile Smith Rowe is working back to full fitness after a period out of training with a groin issue
Philippe Coutinho has worked himself back to fitness after being ruled out by a thigh injury
Diego Carlos was injured in Aston Villa’s first game this season, and his involvement for the rest of the season was initially doubtful. However, he travelled with the Villains to Dubai as part of their mid-season warm weather camp, as he looks to work his way back from a torn Achilles tendon.
Also with the squad in Abu Dhabi was Philippe Coutinho, as he works his way back to fitness from a thigh injury that ruled him out of Aston Villa’s last matches in November before the World Cup break.
The Cherries will hope that they have a trio of players back to full fitness for their upcoming games against Newcastle in the Carabao Cup and Chelsea in the Premier League.
David Brooks (thigh), Lloyd Kelly (foot) and Norberto Neto (thigh) were all absent for Bournemouth ahead of the World Cup, but all could be available for selection again as a full schedule returns.
A thigh injury kept David Brooks out of contention, but he’ll hope to be back for Bournemouth
Shandon Baptiste (R) has hopes to recover from an adductor strain for Brentford’s fixtures
Thomas Frank’s side could welcome back Kristoffer Ajer from a knee injury and Shandon Baptiste from an adductor strain in time for their Premier League fixtures after Christmas.
Pontus Jansson, Thomas Strakosha and Aaron Hickey may also be possible returnees for the Bees after sitting out games ahead of the World Cup, but Charlie Goode remains likely to be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future as he tries to overcome a long-term knee issue.
Jakub Moder said in early December that he was back training with the ball and doing exercises to strengthen his knee after a spell on the sidelines since April with an ACL injury.
Adam Webster and Danny Welbeck are also working their way back into the Brighton side after knocks, but will be hopeful of forming part of their team as the Premier League fixtures stack up.
Jakub Moder has been working hard to get himself back after an ACL injury earlier in 2022
Reece James was with the Chelsea squad in Abu Dhabi as he recovers from his knee injury
N’Golo Kante is set to miss at least the first two months of Chelsea’s return with a thigh injury, although he was part of the club’s trip to the UAE in early December. However, that trip came with its own problems, as Armando Broja was taken off in a friendly against Aston Villa with a nasty-looking knee injury.
The Blues will also have a few players who are in line to return for their league clash with Bournemouth on December 27. Ben Chilwell is not yet training with the club, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek is working in the gym ahead of a possible return.
Reece James looks set to be involved after the knee injury which saw him omitted from the England World Cup squad, while Wesley Fofana is also on a similar path to return.
It is not yet known how Cesar Azpilicueta will return after missing Spain’s last match at the 2022 World Cup with a lower-leg issue, while Hakim Ziyech came off with a knock during Morocco’s World Cup quarter-final win over Portugal.
Chris Richards got some minutes in Crystal Palace’s friendly against Napoli after overcoming a thigh problem.
James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson were both part of Eagles’ trip, as they worked on their fitness in a bid to return soon as they set up for home derbies against Fulham and Spurs and a trip to the South Coast on New Year’s Eve.
Chris Richards came on for Crystal Palace in their friendly against Napoli after a thigh problem
James Garner is one of several long-term problems for Everton, out with a lower back injury
James Garner will hope to return in February following a lower back injury. He is not the only long-term problem Everton face, with defender Mason Holgate and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure both missing from the club’s immediate plans.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina are potentially back for the Boxing Day clash with Wolves after their respective thigh injuries, while Tom Davies and Andros Townsend are also set for competitive returns after Christmas following their respective knee problems.
Manor Solomon is expected to spend at least another month on the sidelines as he recovers from a knee injury, whilst Neeskens Kebano is set for several months out of action for Fulham after rupturing an Achilles tendon in training a fortnight before the World Cup break.
Fulham’s Manor Solomon faces at least another month on the sidelines with a knee issue
Patrick Bamford could be in contention for Leeds United despite undergoing minor surgery
Patrick Bamford is due back for Leeds United in the post-Christmas fixtures after having minor surgery on a groin injury during the World Cup break. Stuart Dallas is currently ruled out with a thigh injury, although he could be back by January, while goalkeeper Illan Meslier is set to return from illness.
Luis Sinisterra, Archie Gray, Junior Firpo, Kristoffer Klaesson are also on the sidelines for the Yorkshire club, and all missed their friendly win against Elche earlier this month.
The Foxes will have to live without James Justin for the season after surgery on a ruptured Achilles just before the six-week break. Ricardo Barbosa Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu and Ryan Bertrand are also long-term absentees for Leicester.
Brendan Rodgers will also have to see what form James Maddison is in after his World Cup trip where he did not play, after an injury scare in the Foxes’ last game against West Ham.
James Maddion (R) travelled to Qatar but did not play in any of England’s World Cup journey
Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott looks to have escaped major problems despite picking up a knock
Arthur will miss the first month of action or even more with a thigh injury, as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool look to compete across four competitions.
Harvey Elliott picked up a knock in a mid-season friendly, but looks to have escaped any serious damage, while Luis Diaz looks set for three months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
It is also not clear when Diogo Jota will become available for selection after the calf muscle injury that wrecked his hopes of going to the World Cup.
Somehow, Man City have emerged from their autumn club exploits, and their many international travellers, without any players thought to be injured. Pep Guardiola will be hoping this remains the case as they fight on four fronts.
Pep Guardiola will be pleased his Manchester City stars appear to have escaped any injuries
Diogo Dalot is doubtful after sustaining a hamstring injury representing Portugal in Qatar
Diogo Dalot is doubtful, as he works back to full fitness following a hamstring injury sustained representing Portugal at the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Axel Tuanzebe is still working to return to the Red Devils, albeit the extended break will definitely have aided his chances at a comeback.
Alexander Isak is still of concern for Eddie Howe, with the Sweden international still not full fit having had the entirety of the World Cup break to work his way back.
Though the club insist he is on track with his recovery, he is not expected to be available before the New Year.
Allan Saint-Maximin played during Newcastle’s mid-season friendly schedule, but is now a doubt having picked up a ‘slight injury’.
Matt Ritchie is hoping to recover from his calf injury to be back in contention for Newcastle’s games over the festive period, but Joelinton could be missing for a little while owing to a tight hamstring he suffered while limping off following the club’s friendly in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
Emil Krafth is set to miss the rest of the season following his ACL injury in August.
Alexander Isak is still struggling to overcome an issue that has kept him out since September
Neco Williams could be involved for Nottingham Forest despite concussion at the World Cup
Harry Toffolo (thigh) and Omar Richards (leg) are set to make their comebacks for Nottingham Forest over the festive period after a short spell on the sidelines. Neco Williams should also be back despite suffering concussion in Qatar with Wales.
However, a knee injury will keep Giulian Biancone out of contention for the rest of the season, while Cheikhou Kouyate and Moussa Niakhate are also out for the time being with thigh injuries.
Kyle Walker-Peters and Valentino Livramento will both expect to be involved for the Saints during the fixture rush in December and January, as they overcome a thigh injury and a knee injury respectively.
However, it is less clear when Juan Larios will be back in contention after an adductor injury.
Kyle Walker-Peters has worked his way back into contention for the Saints this December
Ryan Sessegnon is thought to have overcome the issue that kept him out before the World Cup
Spurs have players involved in three of the four last teams at the World Cup, and they will have kept a close watch upon them during their final games.
For those who aren’t in competitive action, Rodrigo Bentancur and Ryan Sessegnon are both likely to be involved for Tottenham after Christmas, after overcoming problems which kept them out of matches before the World Cup break.
Maxwel Cornet and Tomas Soucek are both currently on the sidelines, although it is thought their issues are not serious.
Defender Nayef Aguerd is currently ruled out with an adductor strain, while Aaron Cresswell picked up a hamstring problem earlier this month and could face a spell out of the game. Kurt Zouma is also possibly going to be involved after a knee injury.
Maxwel Cornet is currently sidelined, although West Ham believe that the issue is not serious
Wolves will have to live without Chiquinho until April as he still recuperates from knee surgery
Wolves have some long-term problems to contend with as they make a competitive return. Chiquinho is still recuperating after knee surgery, and eyeing up a possible return for April.
Sasa Kalajdzic is also out for a long spell with a knee injury that has kept him out of contention since September, whilst Pedro Neto is out with an ankle problem.