The Premier League is back! England’s star studded top-flight makes its eagerly anticipated comeback later this week with the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign on Wednesday evening.
While the enforced three-month layoff has undoubtedly been a huge source of frustration for clubs, players and supporters alike, the break did at least offer some of the division’s injured headliners a chance to return to full fitness for the run-in.
Many players who were readying themselves for a watching brief for the rest of the season have suddenly been presented with an opportunity to feature, and numerous clubs at either end of the Premier League table will be strengthened by unexpected reinforcements from the treatment room between now and the end of the summer.
Below, we take a close look at some of the Premier League’s key players returning from injury. And remember, we’re covering every single fixture this week in detail over on our Premier League predictions page.
Paul Pogba – Manchester United
While he largely remains a divisive figure among supporters at Old Trafford, enigmatic Frenchman Paul Pogba remains one of the games’ most uniquely talented individuals and one of the best midfielders in world football.
A mysterious ankle injury has kept the 27-year-old on the sidelines for the majority of the campaign, though more than a few observers have attributed his absence to a “downing of tools” scenario ahead of what looked a certain summer transfer.
However, although his future with Man Utd remains a hot topic of debate, Pogba’s return to fitness and availability between now and the end of the season strengthens Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hand immeasurably, and his return of 13 goals and 11 assists in his last 39 Premier League starts highlights just how influential he can be.
N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
As a key component in Chelsea’s midfield engine room, N’Golo Kante’s enforced absence had threatened to scupper the Blues’ quest for a top four finish this season.
The French World Cup winner hobbled off against Manchester United with an adductor strain on February 17 earlier this year, though the 29-year-old should be ready to add some much-needed energy to Frank Lampard’s team for the campaign’s climax.
As one of the more experienced members of Lampard’s youthful squad, Kante’s knowhow should prove invaluable as the Blues chase success on multiple fronts.
Leroy Sane – Manchester City
Rapid wide-attacker Leroy Sane has barely kicked a ball for Manchester City this season, and while the Citizens’ squad isn’t short on forward options, the German’s pace and ability to penetrate from the flanks has been a big miss.
Sane’s 2019/20 season was halted as early as last August’s Charity Shield contest between City and Liverpool when a cruciate ligament rupture forced him off after only 13 minutes at Wembley.
The 24-year-old has made a full recover since however, using the COVID-19 led postponement to fine-tune his readiness in anticipation of Man City’s first game back at home to Arsenal this week.
Citizens fans might not be able to enjoy Sane’s performances for long however. The German international looks set to return to his homeland with Bayern Munich before next season’s commences.
David Brooks – Bournemouth
Talented creative midfielder David Brooks has had to endure a nightmare 2019/20 campaign so far. The highly-rated 22-year-old picked up an ankle injury against Brentford in a pre-season friendly a year ago and as a result, subsequently missed every single Cherries game between that game and the postponement of domestic football in March.
During the 2018/19 season Brooks had put himself on the radar as one of the Premier League’s brightest young prospects, notching seven goals and five assists for Eddie Howe’s side during a fine individual nine-month run of form.
Bournemouth, in 18th spot, have missed Brooks’ match-defining influence, though his return could inspire a late revival on the south coast.
Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur
2020 hasn’t been kind to Harry Kane so far. The talismanic centre-forward picked up a thigh injury just after the turn of the year that forced him out of action and onto the physio’s table – and as a result, the 26-year-old has racked up just 75 minutes of action since January 1st.
However, Kane’s comeback, alongside his injured attacking counterparts Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn could ignite a late-season charge for a top four finish at Tottenham Hotspur.
Kane has already scored 17 times in 25 appearances for Spurs in 2019/20, and if he maintains his superb strike-rate then Tottenham’s chances of finishing the year in a positive manner look high.
John McGinn – Aston Villa
Aston Villa’s marauding midfielder John McGinn had been in sensational form in the Villains’ first season back in the big time before a nasty injury threatened to end his entire 2019/20 campaign in December.
McGinn had been one of Dean Smith’s most influential operators before he fractured his ankle against Southampton four days before Christmas – an injury that removed Villa’s most potent weapons in their battle for survival.
With the Birmingham-based club still struggling to keep their necks above water, McGinn’s return should provide a timely boost to their chances of staying up, and the 25-year-old should be ready to feature when Aston Villa host Sheffield United on Wednesday.
Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
Before a stress fracture to his back threatened completely derail his 2019/20 campaign, Manchester United academy graduate Marcus Rashford had been in breath-taking form, rattling home eight goals in 10 Premier League runouts before injury scuppered his streak.
Having carried his team for much of the season, the 22-year-old was forced to watch on from the stands as United, inspired by new signing Bruno Fernandes, ramped things up a gear, winning eight and drawing three of their last 11 games in the lead up to the postponement of play.
With Bruno Fernandes’ creative skillset set to be deployed in tandem with Paul Pogba’s innovative acumen, Rashford should be returning to a much stronger United XI when he is restored to the team against Tottenham on Friday evening.
Rashford had already bagged 19 goals in what was the most prolific season of his career to date before his layoff – with 14 of those goals registered in England’s top-tier, and the fleet-footed wonderkid ranks as an interesting outsider in the race for the Premier Leagues’ Golden Boot.
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