All times Pacific
Weston McKennie: Schalke at Hertha Berlin, Friday, 11:30 AM
Last weekend, McKennie returned early from injury, logging 10 minutes in an already lost contest to Bayern. Though those minutes may have been meaningless to the team, it was a very positive sign to see the midfielder back on the pitch ahead of schedule, and he has a good shot to get into the team this weekend against Hertha. McKennie has been in and out of the squad this year, so it will be interesting to see if he can get some consistent run in the second half for the sixth-place side, which is right in the thick of the battle for European spots in both competitions.
It’s hard to think that Reyna –– who has burst onto the scene with sub appearances in both games in the second half –– will start this week for Dortmund, but there is a small chance. Berlin are midtable, and Dortmund have a midweek DfB-Pokal match against an even-worse Werder side; that could tempt manager Lucien Favre into making some changes. If he doesn’t get a shot on the weekend, there’s also a chance he could factor in against Bremen on Tuesday.
Josh Sargent: Werder Bremen at Augsburg, Saturday, 6:30 AM
Sargent has started eight times this season for Werder and come off the bench another five in 19 Bundesliga games, so he very well could factor into this weekend’s bottom-half battle against Augsburg even if he doesn’t get in the starting XI. Sargent has been wildly inconsistent, but the issues for Werder start at the back, where their 44 goals allowed is tied for worst in the league. That’s not to say the offense has been good, but with little consistency in the players up top, due to injuries and squad rotation, it’s been hard for them to get going.
Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales (and Timothy Chandler): Fortuna Dusseldorf vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, Saturday, 6:30 AM
The scary thing about Steffen’s knee injury is there’s really no report on how serious the knock is. It could be minor, and Steffen could in theory be back this week, but there’s no news to indicate the clear number one will be between the pipes on Saturday morning. Alfredo Morales probably will be in the roster, though, having started both games since the break and having worked his way into the squad before the time off, and Timmy Chandler should be in for Eintracht after locking down a starting spot in recent weeks. Fortuna are really hurting, sitting in dead last, but they aren’t too far from safety and a win could take them out of automatic relegation spots all together.
Tyler Adams (and Fabian Johnson): RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach, Saturday, 9:30 AM
Adams has started and subsequently been removed for a sub in both of RB Leipzig’s matches since the end of the winter break. Adams was deployed as a central midfielder in one and a wing back in the other, so his versatility is certainly doing the trick to keep him on the pitch. He has another solid case to start again this week in a massive contest against Fabian Johnson’s third-place Gladbach side, which is only two points behind the leaders with Bayern Munich sandwiched in the middle. The Bavarian side has won five straight and is breathing down Leipzig’s neck all of the sudden. It’s tightening up in what’s shaping up to be the best Bundesliga race in years.
John Brooks: Wolfsburg at Paderborn, Sunday, 9:00 AM
Brooks has started one of two matches in this half of the season for Wolfsburg, who are looking for solutions at the back after conceding five goals in their last two. Brooks has played in roughly half of Woflsburg’s games this season, so it’s a complete guess as to whether or not he will make Oliver Glasner’s squad for this week's matchup against a struggling Paderborn side.
Christian Pulisic: Chelsea at Leicester, Saturday, 4:30 AM
Before the week started, it was all but certain Pulisic would not be back until mid-February, but an encouraging update from manager Frank Lampard has linked the winger with a potential return for their top-four clash against Leicester on Saturday. Even so, coming off an adductor injury, Pulisic likely won’t start, but he could be used as a super sub, a role he thrived in earlier this year which forced Lampard to start throwing the Hershey, Penn. native into the starting rotation with consistency throughout the second quarter of the season.
DeAndre Yedlin: Newcastle vs. Norwich, Saturday, 7:00 AM
Yedlin is back from injury after starting in the FA Cup last weekend, and the right back could very well be in line for another run in the starting XI this week. The 26-year-old has made 11 appearances –– four off the bench –– in the league this year, so his inclusion has been inconsistent at best due to both injuries and managers’ choice. Yedlin will be another player to keep an eye on in the second half to see if he can earn more starts and minutes.
Indiana Vassilev: Aston Villa at Bournemouth, Saturday, 7:00 AM
Though Vassilev burst onto the scene during the end of winter period, the late window purchase of forward Mbwana Samatta has bumped the striker back down the pecking order. That was first felt in his absence from the League Cup roster in the midweek, a game in which Samatta started. Still, Vassilev has clearly made an impact lately and could find his way at least into the 18-man roster this weekend.
Timothy Weah: Lille vs. Strasbourg, Saturday, 11:00 AM
Weah is back in training, but there still hasn’t been any sign of him returning to the Lille squad. He may be close, but until he returns, it’ll be hard to believe. LOSC have lost three in a row to fall into seventh place and have a tough task against an in-form eighth-place Strasbourg side that’s won four of five.
Tyler Boyd: Besiktas at Rizespor, Saturday, 6:00 AM
There are rumors that Besiktas are looking to get rid of Boyd before the transfer window closes, with this weekend’s opponent Rizespor supposedly interested. However, in the first match under an interim manager, the 25-year-old was given a start in the league, his first since September, so he may yet be in the plans as Besiktas try to turn around what’s been a miserable campaign so far.
Sergino Dest: Ajax vs. PSV, Sunday, 7:45 AM
Dest hasn’t always started, but he’s certainly cemented himself as a consistent member of the Ajax 18-man squad over the course of his first season with the senior side. He did get the nod last week in the starting lineup, though the leaders fell to a 2-1 defeat at Groningen that brought their lead over second-place AZ down to three points. Dest himself wasn’t bad, though, and could well get the nod in a huge match at home against a down PSV side that is nonetheless very capable of surprising its rival.
Duane Holmes: Derby County vs. Stoke, Friday, 11:45 AM
Over the course of the Holiday period, Holmes has been a stalwart and one of Derby’s best players, finally beginning to chip in with the odd goal or assist to go with his steady midfield play. The Rams haven’t been able to solve their issues as they still sit in 16th, but Holmes is showing chemistry with new addition Wayne Rooney that will provide hope ahead of the second half. A home win over a floundering Stoke side that’s just above the relegation zone is a must if Derby are to get going, and Holmes will likely be asked to play an instrumental part once again.
Matt Miazga: Reading at Cardiff, Friday, 11:45 AM
Reading have an important game in their quest to avoid any threat of a relegation scrap, but Miazga won’t be a part of it. The center back injured his ankle last weekend and is expected to miss no less than 4-6 weeks, with the possibility of more. He hadn’t been starting every game recently, but this is nonetheless a brutal blow for both the player and the club, which sits in 15th place in the Championship and needs to avoid a basement battle.
Tim Ream: Fulham vs. Huddersfield, Saturday, 7:00 AM
After seeing red early in Fulham’s 4-0 FA Cup loss to Manchester City last weekend, Ream will miss this weekend’s visit from 19th-place Huddersfield. The 32-year-old has started every game but one in the Cottagers’ Championship campaign, so Fulham will have some adjusting to do without their center back.
Antonee Robinson: Wigan at Leeds, Saturday, 7:00 AM
Robinson also looks unlikely to play for Wigan this weekend, but the reason for his presumed absence is his impending move to AC Milan, which has still yet to be confirmed but looks set to be announced Friday. He’ll leave a Wigan club that’s struggling in the relegation zone for a Milan side sputtering in the middle of the table. Robinson has been consistent all year for the Latics, but he’ll join Milan as second choice to provide cover for their starter (and one of their best players) Lucas Hernandez. It’ll be fascinating to follow along with his career from here.