Pochettino reveals ‘very good news’ with new signing ready for Chelsea debut; provides triple injury update

Jason Soutar
Chelsea striker Christopher Nkunku before a pre-season friendly.
Christopher Nkunku before a pre-season friendly.

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed Christopher Nkunku will be in the Chelsea squad to face Sheffield United on Saturday, but it is not all good news on the injury front.

Nkunku joined the Blues from RB Leipzig in the summer but sustained a serious knee injury before the start of the season.

Pochettino has been hopeful of handing the Frenchman his debut and will finally be able to do so when his side host the Blades in the Premier League on Saturday.

“Yes, he can be involved,” the Argentine told reporters on Friday. “That is very good news.

“To be involved tomorrow and be in the squad and to feel the competition after the pre-season is good news for us.

“We need to be calm and quiet so not to put all the pressure on him. Now he’s going to evolve, know the Premier League.

“It’s a big motivation for us, for the teammates, and the fans to see a player that should be important for us and to be in the squad for the first time.”

It is not all sunshine and roses for Pochettino, though, with Reece James, Marc Cucurella and Robert Sanchez all out injured.

“I think always when you suffer an injury and he was our No.1 goalkeeper so far, always a player we will miss,” he said.

“We have another goalkeeper who is working hard to be ready. Of course, very sad because we are going to lose a player, maybe for a few weeks.

“We need to wait and see perfectly the situation and also with Reece and Marc Cucurella.

“From the beginning we are being hit with different circumstances. We need to be strong because the competition doesn’t stop.”

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On James, Pochettino said: “I prefer not to talk too much now. He’s a little bit down because he was very excited to come back.

“How we build him back was step by step, it was in a perfect way we tried to build his confidence and full recovery and for him it’s difficult to accept, very frustrated.

“Now we need to be careful in the way we talk while we assess and find the best solution.

“I am worried about all of the players. When a player doesn’t play, always he’s down.

“Our mind is difficult to keep quiet and calm but we are going to support him. We are here to support him to try and help and we want to find a solution for as soon as possible to get him with the group.”

Sanchez’s injury presents an opportunity for summer signing Djordje Petrovic, who will start against Sheffield United.

“I have faith in all of my players,” Pochettino said. “He arrived at Chelsea because we believed he had great potential.

“Now after four or five months working with us is the moment for him to step up and feel good because we have the trust in him.

“Now is to make the debut in Stamford Bridge, yes we trust that he can perform in the way we want.”

When asked how the squad is impacted by the loss of key players, the Chelsea boss replied: “It’s like when you live in a house and suffer problems and need to delay. That in football happens when you’re involved in a project to build something. It’s a problem you never want to suffer.

“In our mind Reece was one of key players and captain. What can we do? We need to keep believing and working.

“All the pressure starts from scratch and you need to go up. We need to build a structure and take more time. I have no doubt, in the end we are going to succeed.

“We talked a lot this week about belief and trust, now, we are not in a position that is nice to see. It is a reality and we need to find a reality. We have talented player, now it is to believe and step up and to keep pushing.”

On the opportunity to get back to winning ways against Sheffield United, after a disappointing defeat at Everton last week, Poch said: “Always it is difficult. You cannot compare games.

“I know very well Sheffield United and Chris and it is going to be tough. They will be aggressive, low block and it has been difficult for us against a low block.

“Most important is working on our mentality and our way to play, find different solutions and be more solid and consistent.

“Now for tomorrow in the way we are going to approach the game. The signal is I lose my voice as we were shouting a lot. It’s in the mind of the squad and the team.

“We are going to fight and everything that works and to succeed, from our side we are motivated to find a way to perform.”

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