Team News: Bournemouth
By Kevin Affleck
Nigel Pearson confirmed Danny Welbeck is back in training and that Nathaniel Chalobah has recovered from the knock that forced him off against Tranmere in the FA Cup.
Welbeck has been out of action with a hamstring injury since the middle of October, but he has been back out on the grass following an individual programme for a few weeks and resumed training with the main group on Wednesday morning, although he only did part of the session as he is being eased back in.
“Danny is back out on the grass and is making good progress,” said the Head Coach. “It's been unfortunate this season that we've had a number of injuries that have caused us problems. We've got some long-term ones we have to accept are not going to be available for a while. Tom Cleverley is still a while away. We don't want to put a time frame on it. We want him back, but back for himself. I don't want to put players at risk for the sake of [returning] a couple of weeks early. Prödl is making good progress and Janmaat is also making progress.”
On the plus side, Chalobah and Craig Cathcart are both fit and available for selection.
“They both trained today,” said Pearson. “We do have some ones with longer-term injuries, and then players we are aware have manageable injuries or issues we can get them through games and training. Having a rest [for two days after the Tranmere game] helped a number of the players for sure. Hughes we don't think will be available for this week. There are one or two with a few less serious ones and we'll assess them over the next couple of days. We'll just manage it.”
The Bournemouth game will come too soon for Kiko Femenía. The Spanish full-back, who has been a revelation over Christmas, is not a long-term problem, but is definitely out of Sunday's game with the hamstring injury he picked up against Wolverhampton. His return, along with that of England internationals Cleverley and Welbeck, will provide depth to the squad and their return date could influence any January deals.
“Hopefully we will have new signings by getting those injured players back, which is important for us,” said Pearson. “If we did no business, I still think we have got capabilities and tools to get out of the situation we are in. Time will tell. If we did business, it won't be substantial.”
The return to full fitness of Troy Deeney has been like a new signing and he has galvanised the group over Christmas.
“He's a very likeable character and effective and we need game effective players,” said Pearson. “That's the most important thing. He's a big character at the football club and has been here quite a while now. He's somebody that I'm very pleased to have as a type of player. He brings us something different and is a focal point for the team. He can influence people, for sure. The most important thing is what he can bring us on the pitch and he's a difficult player to play against.”
The Hornets will also be without Christian Kabasele for the clash on the south coast, as the defender is serving the final game of his two-match ban for a red card picked up against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Roberto Pereyra will be available, as his red card received against Tranmere Rovers was overturned.