Chelsea trio Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile and Carney Chukwuemeka could make their comebacks from injury very soon.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was confident that all three players will be available in the very near future:
“We are so close with some players like Chilwell, Badiashile and Chukwuemeka. But we need to see every day the evaluation and then it’s about whether we can include or not. But they are so close and always we use our experience to tell how players are performing in training.”
With Badiashile having been out the shortest period of time, you would expect the defender to be first to return to the matchday squad. Chilwell and Chukwuemea’s fitness will have to be managed more carefully.
Chelsea injury crisis is set to ease somewhat
With 11 players currently on the sidelines with injuries, and Nicolas Jackson away at the African Cup of Nations, having three first-team players back in contention will be a timely boost for Pochettino.
As Marc Cucurella is also unavailable, the Blues have struggled for options on the left-hand side of defence. Levi Colwill has had to play more games than Pochettino would have liked, while Malo Gusto has also been deployed out of position.
Chilwell’s reintroduction will undoubtedly help matters in that regard. The fullback has not played since late September due to a hamstring injury so he is likely chomping at the bit to play again.
Similarly, in midfield, Chelsea are pretty thin on numbers, and Chukwuemeka will get plenty of minutes once he is back up to full match fitness.
It’s not such good news for two other Chelsea players
While Chukwuemeka is closing in on his return, both Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku will not play this week. The former is still having issues with the thigh injury he sustained in the win over Crystal Palace.
Nkunku, meanwhile, has discomfort in his hip and the midfielder won’t be risked versus Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.