Pochettino remains coy over Man Utd interest in Chelsea flop ahead of Carabao Cup tie

News Desk
Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino and Raheem Sterling
Mauricio Pochettino and Raheem Sterling hug during a Premier League match.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino thinks his academy stars can rise to the challenge and impress in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon.

Pochettino is likely to fully utilise his options for the visit of the League Two outfit as he attempts to manage the workload on a squad that is already severely impacted by injury.

Forward Mason Burstow, midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu and Noni Madueke have all been brought on off the bench in the Premier League this season so they could be handed a full start, while Diego Moreira and defender Bashir Humphreys may also be in action.

Whatever side he selects, Pochettino has no doubt the talented teenagers will have what it takes to make the step up.

“We are thinking to start with 11 players that can perform in the way that we want,” Pochettino told a press conference.

“(We want to be) right in our assessment, in our risk because you have many injuries and the squad is not big at the moment.

“We are going to use four or five young guys from the academy – 17 years old, 16 years old – but Chelsea has always produced good talent, young kids and now is a good opportunity.

“It is not because it is our philosophy at the moment, it is because we need to bring young guys to the first team because we have some players that cannot play tomorrow.

“But I think it should be good to create the possibility for the young guys to be part of the project, part of producing players for the first team because the Academy and the coaches there are working so hard.

“For a club like Chelsea, it is always good to have players from the Academy that can translate the identity of the club.”

Pochettino refused to be drawn on continued transfer speculation, with defender Marc Cucurella reportedly subject of interest from Manchester United.

“I cannot talk about supposition or rumours. For tomorrow he (Cucurella) is going to be able to play,” the Chelsea boss said.

“The club did not communicate (anything else) to me. All of the players that are in our squad are in our plans even if they didn’t play at the moment.”

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With Chelsea not involved in European football this season, Pochettino intends to focus on just one thing – winning matches, whatever the competition.

“I want to win the Carabao Cup, I want to win the FA Cup and I want to win the Premier League, then we will see what happens after,” the former Tottenham boss said.

“Even if we are involved in the next few years in the Champions League or different European competitions – every single one is going to be a challenge for us and an opportunity to win.”

Chelsea, who beat Luton on Friday night for a first Premier League win of the new season, have agreed a season-long loan deal with Roma for Romelu Lukaku.

The Blues have already spent around £350million on new arrivals during the transfer window and have been linked with bringing in at least one more attacking player – with Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe reportedly on the radar.

Pochettino said: “I know very well that the club is working very hard to try and finish our business with still a few days, so I think that will happen, maybe yes (another player).

“At the moment, we are working to try and deliver what we want, but there is nothing to communicate at the moment.”

Pochettino added: “If we had someone who can maybe improve different positions, of course they are welcome, but I am happy with how we are now.”

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