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The Fantasy Football wildcard deadline is coming! Here's the players to consider

Robbie Brady could be an excellent festive investment for your New Year Fantasy Football squad.

FOR THOSE OF you lucky enough still to be holding your first-half-of-the-season Fantasy Premier League wildcard, the deadline to play it is fast approaching.

The ‘chip’, as it’s now known, must be used before 28 December at 14:00 – after this (the deadline for Gameweek 19) it will expire.

The second wildcard is then available until the end of the season. Planning for the Christmas/New Year fixture pile-up is crucial to fielding 11 starters every week. Here are players that can help you steal a march on your mini-league rivals going into the New Year:

Goalkeeper

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Barclays Premier League - White Hart Lane Source: Nigel French

He might be on the expensive side, in fantasy goalkeeping terms, but Hugo Lloris (£5.1m) is the cheapest nailed-on member of Tottenham Hotspur’s backline. Despite having four away fixtures in their next six from 28 December, the French stopper faces three sides which Spurs have shut-out already this season: Everton, Sunderland and Crystal Palace. Also on their travels to Watford and Norwich City in that period, Mauricio Pochettino’s resilient outfit could be one to back for clean sheets going into the second half of the season.

Defender

Craig Dawson (£5.1m) is the most expensive defender on offer in a West Bromwich Albion team that generally scream solidity at the back. The Baggies haven’t been their usual robust selves in the opening half of the Premier League campaign at the Hawthorns, but the fixtures suggest that Tony Pulis’ men will rediscover their defensive resolve on home turf. Four home games in six for West Brom, beginning from the wildcard deadline, include clashes against Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Swansea City.

Midfielders

Norwich City v Arsenal - Barclays Premier League - Carrow Road Source: Adam Davy

Alexis Sanchez (£11.0m) is one of the most explosive fantasy picks in the Premier League. Following a St. Stephen’s Day trip to St. Mary’s, Arsene Wenger’s side travel to Bournemouth before welcoming Newcastle to the Emirates. These two fixtures scream goals, particularly if they contain a fully-fit Sanchez. Picking up a player who’s value is currently falling week-on-week, that has picked up three double-figure hauls already this season, could be a canny wildcard investment once his fitness is confirmed.

With a goal and three assists to his name, Robbie Brady (£5.4m) is proving himself to be the fantasy option in Norwich’s midfield department. Despite playing mainly at left-back during the Republic of Ireland’s successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Alex Neil has fielded the former Hull City midfielder in an advanced berth wide on the left. While the Canaries have three away fixtures in four from the 28th, trips to Aston Villa, Stoke and Bournemouth are the kind of fixtures they need to pick up points from. Brady’s budget price-tag could see him drafted in on many a Winter wildcard.

Forwards

Manchester City v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - Etihad Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

Sergio Aguero (£13.1m) is possibly the most frustrating Fantasy asset around. The best player in the league on his day, the Argentine seems unable to stay away from the injury table. Without a wildcard, it usually costs at least four points to rework your squad to fit in the Manchester City striker. The ‘chip’, however, makes the transition much smoother, while also allowing you to get Aguero in before your rivals can make the switch. We all saw what Manuel Pellegrini’s main man can do when handed the fantasy captain’s armband (look away Newcastle fans). With trips to Leicester City and Watford on the schedule before both Everton and Palace visit the Etihad, a fit Aguero should have the platform to chase down Jamie Vardy at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

Having only managed a solitary strike in November, Graziano Pelle (£8.2m) is flying out of Fantasy teams as options such as Vardy, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane are taken up by managers. The Italian’s price is likely to fall further ahead of a late December schedule which pits the Saints against West Ham(a), Norwich(a), Watford(H) and West Brom(H). Known as a player who struggles to find the net away from St. Mary’s, the striker couldn’t ask for two more obliging away backlines.

The Hammers have conceded 11 times on home turf, with Norwich not far behind on nine. If Ronald Koeman decides to shake up a side that has been struggling for form, keep an eye out for Shane Long, who is available for a paltry 5.7m.

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