HomeNkunku in contention to make Chelsea debut against Sheffield United

Nkunku in contention to make Chelsea debut against Sheffield United

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Christopher Nkunku is in contention to make his long-awaited Premier League debut when Sheffield United visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

Nkunku joined Chelsea in a big-money move from RB Leipzig in July, but the France international suffered a knee injury in pre-season and is yet to make a competitive appearance for the Blues.

The versatile forward scored 58 goals across his last two seasons in Germany and his absence has been keenly felt by Chelsea, who have been criticised for lacking a cutting edge in front of goal.

Pochettino has hinted Nkunku was close to a return on several occasions in recent weeks, and it appears the 26-year-old will finally make his bow against the struggling Blades on Saturday.

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Asked about Nkunku’s availability at Friday’s pre-match press conference, the Argentine said: “He can be involved.

“That is very good news for us because being involved tomorrow and being in the squad, he can start to feel the competition, to feel the Premier League, and be with his team-mates for the first time.

“Now we need to be calm and quiet because we don’t want to put all the pressure on him. Now he needs to evolve, know the Premier League, know the competition.

“It’s a big motivation also for us, for his team-mates and for our fans to see a player who should be important for us in the squad for the first time of the season.”

While Nkunku’s return should represent a major boost for the Blues, who are languishing in the bottom half of the table and have only won one of their last five league games, they continue to be plagued by injuries elsewhere.

Captain Reece James will reportedly be sidelined until February after suffering a “significant” hamstring injury in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Everton.

The right-back sustained a similar injury in August and has only started five of Chelsea’s 16 league games this term, and Pochettino says the Blues must find a long-term solution to his struggles.

“I prefer not to talk too much now. I think we need to go in-depth with the situation. He is a little bit down because he was really excited to come back,” Pochettino said of James.

“How we built him back was perfect because it was step-by-step, first playing 20 minutes, then 30, 45, 60 minutes. We tried to build his confidence in a perfect way for a full recovery.

“So for him it is difficult to accept. He feels very disappointed, very frustrated.

“Now we need to be careful in the way that we are going to talk, but also assess and try to find the best solution for him to be consistent and try to forget the injuries in the past.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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