Season looks over for Albrighton

Leicester City midfielder Marc Albrighton is unlikely to feature again this season as he requires surgery to repair a hamstring injury sustained during training.

The 29-year-old sat out the 1-0 home Premier League defeat to Manchester United last weekend, with the Foxes hoping that the injury was not too serious.

However, ahead of a Sunday trip to Wembley to take on Tottenham Hotspur, City head coach Claude Puel has confirmed that his player requires an operation and is highly unlikely to be able to return to action before the end of the current campaign.

The Frenchman told his club's official website: "We now know more about the injury to Marc.

"He's had a serious hamstring injury. It's bad news for us, for the team and I think he will not be available until the end of the season.

"Marc gives the team spirit and aggressiveness. We will have to find another balance in the team, so we will see.

"It's a bad thing for him and for us, but it will be an opportunity for another player to show his quality and we'll have to manage this situation. He will have surgery."

England Under-21 international Albrighton joined Leicester from Aston Villa in the summer of 2014 and has since scored 13 goals in 173 appearances in all competitions.

He featured in every match in the Premier League-winning season of 2015/16, with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and skipper Wes Morgan the only two other Foxes players to match that record.

Leicester are currently priced at 8/15 to finish in the top half of the Premier League this season, while they are 6/4 to end up in the bottom half.

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Sarri retains Hazard form focus

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri says he will continue to focus on on-field matters with Eden Hazard and not concern himself with the player's potential summer exit.

Hazard has confirmed that he has made up his mind over whether to remain at Stamford Bridge or move on, but his decision has yet to be officially announced – with Real Madrid the club top of the list to sign the Belgian forward.

And Sarri says he will not get involved in the situation about the future, but will remain focused on getting the best out of Hazard for the remainder of the campaign.

He told reporters: "I speak every day with Eden, but I speak with Eden about his position on the pitch.

"I will be really very happy with him if he will want to stay, because in my opinion he's the best in Europe, but it's up to him. I want to see him happy and so, he has to decide."

Meanwhile, Sarri again voiced his pleasure at having been able to bring striker Gonzalo Higuain to the club, initially on loan from Juventus until the end of the season.

The Italian added: "I think that Gonzalo is a great player. He did very well everywhere, in Madrid, Naples and Milan, maybe not Milan.

"He is a great player and he is very useful for Eden. They are really very suitable to play together I think. It is important for us he is determined, the impact is really very good for us."

The Blues can be backed at 8/11 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, with Manchester United available at 11/8 and Arsenal 3/1.

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Kane closing on Spurs return

Tottenham Hotspur's star striker Harry Kane is set for a return to action in the very near future, having been sidelined for nearly a month by an ankle ligament injury.

England skipper Kane has not featured since the 1-0 Premier League loss to Manchester United on Sunday 13th January, but Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino says his player is closing in on a return to the fold.

The Argentinian did, however, rule Kane out of both the league clash with Leicester City this weekend and the Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund in midweek.

He told reporters ahead of the Wembley game against the Foxes on Sunday: "He's doing well, he's doing fantastic.

"We have to stop him every day, because he wants to be ahead of his recovery and he's very optimistic and his determination to play as soon as possible is unbelievable.

"If you see him, he's nearly ready to play, but we need to be realistic too. I think he's so close to come back again, not for Sunday and not for Wednesday, but we'll see after that."

Kane has scored 14 Premier League goals this season, the same number of Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero.

Only Arsenal frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (15) and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah (16) have more to their name.

Kane can be backed at 10/1 to be the leading scorer in the Premier League come the end of the season, with Salah priced at 1/1 and Aguero available at 3/1.

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Poch: Reds remain the favourites

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino believes that Liverpool remain 'clear favourites' to win the Premier League title this season.

The Reds were knocked off top spot on goal difference in midweek as Manchester City claimed a 2-0 victory at Everton, but the Merseysiders have a game in hand on the Citizens and Pochettino is still picking Liverpool as the team to beat.

Pochettino told reporters: "I think the competition is so tough, the Premier League is so difficult and still they are (near) the top of the table and are clear favourites to win the Premier League.

"I think there are a lot of circumstances that happen during a period of a ten-month competition. They are suffering a similar situation to us with some injuries and I know it's not easy to keep the same level.

"The period is going to be tough for everyone, for the teams that want to win the trophy at the end, but no doubt that for sure Liverpool is going to be there until the end.

"We are there, third in the table. It is our objective to be involved to the end, to be a realistic contender."

Tottenham play host to Leicester City on Sunday, with the Londoners currently five points adrift of both City and the Reds.

The meeting of Spurs and the Foxes at the King Power Stadium earlier this season ended in a 2-0 victory for the visitors, with Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli their goalscorers.

Tottenham can be backed at 7/10 to earn three points on Sunday, while they are 8/1 to claim a 2-0 victory, with Son priced at 6/5 to score at any time in the game.

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Lerma a doubt for Anfield clash

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has revealed that Jefferson Lerma will have a fitness test to see if he can feature in Saturday's game against Liverpool at Anfield.

The Colombia international, who has played in 19 top-flight games this season following his summer transfer from Levante, is struggling with an ankle injury.

He missed last month's impressive 4-0 win against Chelsea and was a second-half substitute at Cardiff City last weekend.

Howe said: "We are waiting on a fitness test for Jefferson. He's had a niggling ankle injury for a few weeks so has been on and off with his training this week. We will wait and see whether he's fit."

Bournemouth have a lengthy injury list to contend with and Callum Wilson and David Brooks look set to be sidelined until March.

Wilson had a knee clean-up operation at the end of last month while Brooks picked up an ankle injury against Chelsea.

"They have pretty similar timescales," Howe said of Brooks and Wilson. "David has been to see a specialist and has had scans so I think around the four-week mark for him.

"Callum had a clean-out in his knee so, again, probably around the same mark but we are not going to be able to get them back earlier than that. They are both big misses for us but I believe we have the squad strength to cover those players."

In addition to Lerma, Wilson and Brooks, long-term injury victims Simon Francis and Lewis Cook remain sidelined with anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

Bournemouth can be backed at 13/1 to earn a shock win at Anfield while they are 4/5 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season.

Wolves aim to keep winning

Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio does not think Monday's Premier League game against relegation-threatened Newcastle United will be easy.

Nuno Espirito Santo's squad are currently in Spain for a warm weather training camp but Portugal international Patricio is determined to maintain the winning habit when they return from Marbella.

Wolves have won their last three league matches against Leicester City, West Ham United and Everton – scoring 10 goals in the process – and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup by beating Shrewsbury Town in a replay earlier this week.

Patricio said of the Newcastle match: "It's going to be a difficult game, as all the games in the Premier League are. It will be a game against an excellent team, but let's do as we've been doing, to fight to win, to play our game and be focused.

"We're playing at home, in our stadium, in front of our fans and I'd like to thank our fans for their support, whether it's home or away.

"Our objective is always to try as hard as possible to reach a better position and, the higher up we can get in the league table, the better.

"I am growing as a player and that is also important, because I'm going to keep working as I want to grow and progress even more."

Wolves can be backed at 8/11 to beat Newcastle on Monday and at 1/1 to keep a clean sheet against Rafa Benitez's side.

Hasenhuttl rues Ings blow

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that Danny Ings faces another spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

The striker picked up the problem on Saturday in the first half of the 1-1 draw with one of his former teams, Burnley.

He will definitely miss this weekend's match against Cardiff City and is unlikely to play again this month.

Hasenhuttl said: "Danny had made a big step after 20 minutes to the ball and then sprinted and he then had a problem with his hamstring.

"This has cost him another two-three weeks to come back, so that's not good. We miss him because he is a good player for us and a good striker."

Hasenhuttl remains happy with his attacking options even though he sold Manolo Gabbiadini last month while Michael Obafemi and Charlie Austin are not fully-fit.

The Austrian added: "I don't think that we show we have problems to score. We did it in nearly every game and [Nathan] Redmond is having fantastic performances at the moment where he nearly scores every game.

"I don't think our biggest problem isn't being able to score, we should be focused on having more clean sheets in the future."

Ryan Bertrand and Maya Yoshida should be available for the game against the Bluebirds as the former has recovered from injury and the latter has returned to England after representing Japan at the Asian Cup.

Southampton are 3/4 to beat Cardiff and 6/5 to keep a clean sheet against Neil Warnock's side, 1/2 to be relegated this term.

Jones inks Old Trafford deal

England international Phil Jones has penned a new contract with Manchester United that will keep him at the club until June 2023.

There is also the option to extend the deal for a further year.

The 26-year-old moved to Old Trafford from Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2011 and has featured in more than 150 Premier League games for United.

Jones said: "I am delighted to have signed a new contract. Manchester United has been a big part of my life for eight years and I love everything about this club."

Meanwhile, interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the versatile player: "Phil knows what it takes to be a Manchester United player. He has won the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League and is now one of the senior players within the team.

"He is coming up to his 27th birthday and entering into his prime years as a centre-half. We are delighted Phil has committed his future to the club.

"He's been here so long so he knows what it takes for us to move up the table."

United have won nine and drawn one of their 10 matches since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as boss in December and the Norwegian says he has "a vision and a picture of how we want to look in a couple of years".

Solskjaer has also confirmed that captain Antonio Valencia will miss Saturday's trip to Fulham through injury.

United, 11/8 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, can be backed at 8/13 to beat Fulham and 8/1 to win the match 2-0.

Irons welcome back Arnautovic

West Ham will have star forward Marko Arnautovic available for selection for the derby clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Austria international was forced to sit out the 1-1 Premier League draw with Liverpool on Monday evening due to a bruised foot sustained in the 3-0 reverse at Wolves six days earlier.

However, Hammers head coach Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that Arnautovic has trained without ant issues through the week and will be in contention to feature against the Eagles.

He told reporters: "Marko worked the complete week. It is good news, of course. He is a player who makes a difference and important for our team.

"He needs to recover his best form after not playing and his last injury – I hope he will be an important player for the remainder of the season."

Arnautovic, who was heavily linked with a move to China during the January transfer window, has scored seven league goals for the Irons so far this season, including two in a 2-2 draw at home to Brighton just over a month ago.

He is available at 21/10 to score at any time against Palace on Saturday, with the Hammers having won 3-2 when the two sides met at the London Stadium in early December.

Felipe Anderson got on the scoresheet in that game and the Brazilian is 3/1 to find the net at any time on Saturday.

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Silva seeking set-piece answers

Marco Silva accepts that he and his Everton players need to find answers as to why they have conceded so many goals at set-pieces so far this season.

A 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Manchester City saw the Toffees left in a 12th set-piece goal in the Premier League this season, with the Merseysiders having now lost three of their last four league games.

And afterwards head coach Silva was clearly irritated by the problems at hand and vowed to try and find solutions in the near future.

He told reporters: "What I want to speak about will stay with my players, we've spoken many times. Bad things are coming to us too easily, it's not normal.

"They work, they put focus on it, but sometimes it is so negative the bad things come to us and I want to be positive in this situation, because I know the players are working, they are prepared, they know.

"It's a matter for us to be more aggressive in that moment and be more confident.

"Each set-piece is difficult for not just our players, but the fans also and I understand why, but we have to be stronger."

Everton are currently in ninth place in the Premier League table, with their next assignment a Saturday visit to Watford, who are one place above them in the standings and who are also one of Silva's former clubs.

Everton can be backed at 23/10 to draw at Vicarage Road, with a 1-1 final scoreline 11/2 and a goalless draw available at 10/1.

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