Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino will feel that things are finally clicking together after inauspicious start to his tenure at Stamford Bridge following their 4-4 draw with Manchester City on Sunday. The Argentinian declared himself pleased with how his players performed after Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling shone against their former club, but Pochettino still has a number of long-term absentees on his injury list. Express Sport has the latest on their injuries and expected return dates for those sidelined.
Pochettino joked Nkunku lied to him about whether he could return from injury after the international break as the £60million signing prepares to finally make his Chelsea debut. Nkunku is still yet to make his first competitive appearance for the club after injuring his knee just days before the start of the Premier League season.
The 25-year-old underwent minor surgery to ensure the issue does not occur again in the future, but it has kept him out for three months and counting. After resuming full training last week, he should be in contention to make the squad for the trip to Newcastle on November 25.
“We had some conversation and he [Nkunku] said to me ‘Coach, I want to be ready for after international break for Newcastle’,” Pochettino said in his press conference on Friday. “I asked him yesterday [Thursday] and he said ‘hmmm’, and I said ‘you are a liar!’ He said ‘No I am not!’ He is close and he is doing really well. We are happy with him.”
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In addressing Nkunku’s absence from the squad, Pochettino also hinted Romeo Lavia is on the verge of recovering from an ankle issue that has kept him sidelined since his £58m move from Southampton on deadline day.
“Romeo is also close. They trained today on the pitch,” he said. “We hope that next week they will be involved with the team, and we will assess day by day to see when they can start to play and help the team.”
The 19-year-old may have to bide his time for his debut as Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo are Pochettino’s settled midfield trio. But he should be in line to return to the squad in December to end the teenager’s long wait for his Chelsea bow.
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Chelsea’s vice-captain suffered a third hamstring injury in the space of a year during the 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Brighton in September and has been out ever since.
The England left-back’s diagnosis suggested he will miss at least two months of football after his latest injury, which occurred while he was challenging former Blues midfielder Billy Gilmour for the ball.
He is unlikely to be back in training until mid-December, though, with the Blues keen to ease him back into action after watching the left-back suffer multiple injuries since his £50m switch in 2020.
It is possible that Chalobah may have already played his final game for Chelsea as his injury woes show no sign of abating for the Blues man.
The centre-back suffered a recent setback in his recovery from a thigh problem and is ‘continuing his rehabilitation programme’ at Cobham, according to the club’s most recent injury update. But the 24-year-old is yet to make a single appearance under Pochettino, even when he has been fit, and speculation persists that the versatile defender could be sold in January to make way for new signings.
With no return date given for his comeback, Chalobah faces a frustrating period waiting to discover his fate at Stamford Bridge.
Like Chalobah, Chukwuemeka has been forced out after suffering a setback on his path back to training. The 20-year-old had begun the season brightly as a starter for Pochettino, but the midfielder has been out since injuring his knee against West Ham.
The ex-Aston Villa trainee will be closely monitored by medics at the training ground as he continues working to return to first-team football. However, with no date given for his potential, it is safe to assume he won’t be back until the New Year at the earliest.
Fofana’s knee troubles have kept him out since the start of the season after he underwent reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) after suffering a recurrence of the injury.
He will now begin his recovery and work with the club’s medical department at Cobham during his rehab phase, but there is only a slim chance that the Frenchman will be back before the end of the season.
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