Team News: Brighton
By Kevin Affleck
Gerard Deulofeu is fit and raring to go for the season opener against Brighton & Hove Albion, says Javi Gracia.
The Spaniard, who won the Goal of the Season and Individual Performance of the Season awards last season, has not been seen in action since the first half of the game against Bayer Leverkusen in Austria, but he has recovered from a muscle problem and is ready to face the Seagulls at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
"He is perfect," said Gracia. "He had a little problem and it was two weeks ago. He's had time to recover and has been able to train with the team from the beginning of the week. He's ready."
Roberto Pereyra is also in the mix to play some part after being eased back in after an extended summer break. Gracia and his medical staff have been keen to manage the playmaker's load after he spent most of the summer training with Argentina for their Copa America campaign.
"Roberto was ready from the beginning but he needed time as he came late," said the Head Coach. "He is ready but he just needs time because this is only his second week of pre-season. He's not in his best physical condition but he can still help the team by playing some minutes."
Unavailable to the Head Coach this week are Nathaniel Chalobah, Adalberto Peñaranda, Domingos Quina and Dimitri Foulquier.
"Foulquier has a problem in his calf because he picked up a knock," said Gracia. "Peñaranda is training but not with the team. Domingos has a muscle problem and Chalo needs some time to recover after the work he has done in pre-season. Next week they will be ready."
New signing Danny Welbeck will not play any part as his return to action is being carefully planned by the medical team as he works his way back from a long injury.
"He is in good condition and maybe if you ask me next week, I can tell you something more," said Gracia.