Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that Levi Colwill is fit to face Newcastle United on Saturday and has provided injury updates on Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku.
The Blues are back in Premier League action at St James’ Park after the international break – thankfully the last one of the year.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Pochettino said he has already told his players the starting XI for the clash against Eddie Howe’s men but says the fixture has come too soon for Nkunku, Lavia and Wesley Fofana – who will probably be back next year after suffering an ACL injury in July.
He said: “Today was the last one (training session). Moises Caicedo, now we need to assess.
“They already know the starting XI for tomorrow, I’m not going to make it public. All arrive in a normal condition. Already picked the starting XI. I will give to you tomorrow.
“Colwill yes. Lavia and Nkunku still out.
“It’s difficult to assess them. They are in a good condition. Nkunku is a little ahead of Lavia; doing things with the group last week. Still not fully recovered.
“Yes it was nice to see (Fofana on the training pitch). For him it was a massive motivation to be there and for us also.”
Pochettino insists fans must be patient with Nkunku, who joined Chelsea in the summer after scoring 70 goals in four years at RB Leipzig.
“At Chelsea there is always expectation but we need to understand he came from an injury, he needs time, need to be patient with him to start to compete, play,” Pochettino noted.
“It’s not a comeptition he is used to playing, coming from the Bundesliga and he needs to recover from his injury, to know the league. Always is to have time to perform his best.
“Last week, in few training sessions, still he’s not fully recovered to be part of the tactical sessions.
“He is a player, a fantastic player that was top scorer in the Bundesliga and he can play in different positions.
“Really bad luck to lose him for the beginning of the season. Step by step we will find the best way for him to fit in the team. He needs to build his form and be in his best XI to then compete with players.”
It has been a stuttery start for the former Tottenham boss at Stamford Bridge but after consecutive Premier League games scoring four goals, the Argentine thinks the future is bright.
“I think for us it’s a good time ahead because we love to work and we need to spend time together on and off the pitch, it’s going to be an important period for us to settle our principles and ideas,” Pochettino said.
“We were not consistent in the first period of the competition. We talked today in our meeting to try to find out why. We were very good against Arsenal, Liverpool and struggled against teams with less quality than us and play in a different way. That is part of the process, we are a young team, started work four months ago and we need to be more mature.
“We were talking about that, we need to be more patient we cannot get frustrated when things don’t work when we don’t create chances or score goals. I think it happens because of expectation. Maybe creates some nerves when you play a team that is less quality than you and you rush the decision, not the best decisions on the pitch.
“You want to do the job of your teammate. That is about being more mature. We are going to improve with time. More than tactical or physical, it’s being more mature like a team.”
Scoring goals has been a massive issue for Chelsea over the last year and Pochettino says he is unsure if teams will look at them differently after scoring four against Spurs and Manchester City, respectively.
He said: “I don’t see how they are going to see us.
“We need to be consistent in the way we think. We need to keep in the same way, we cannot change every day. It’s important to assess after a period, when you win the perception is different.
“Most important is we are more confident and tomorrow we need to confirm we are in a different way.”
Playing at St James’ Park promises to be a huge test for Pochettino and his players and the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss has been high in praise of Howe.
“When we arrived to Southampton he was at Bournemouth and I think doing a great job.
“Great manager, one of the best coaches in England. Need to remember he arrived when Newcastle was bottom and look where Newcastle is.
“We know very well they are doing a fantastic job, Eddie is still young but with experience, one of the most talented coaches in Europe.”
Pochettino was one of the names linked with the Newcastle job before Howe was appointed by the club’s new owners, but he insists he was never contacted over the role.
“No, you ask me in the past? Never was a possibility. No one contacted me.”
Pochettino allowed young midfielder Lewis Hall to join Newcastle on loan – with the option to buy – in the summer, despite his positive performances for the Blues, and he admits the player has a “good future”.
“It was a player with the conditions here, too many players in that position ahead of him,” he said. “The player and the club took the best decision for both sides.
“Unlucky that he cannot play but he has a good future and hope he can settle well there.”