Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that neither Christopher Nkunku nor Malo Gusto will play against Aston Villa in the FA Cup, while vice-captain Ben Chilwell is also a fitness doubt.
The club’s medical department have reported that both Nkunku and Gusto have returned to full training but Pochettino said the Villa has come too soon for the pair:
“They [Nkunku and Gusto] could be available for Liverpool on Wednesday. We need to see how they evolve in the next few days. But they’re not going to be available tomorrow.”
When speaking about Chilwell’s fitness, Pochettino said they don’t want the left-back playing too often, too soon:
“We are assessing him to see if he can cope with another game in three days.”
Chilwell played 65 minutes in the 6-1 win over Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening but it was his first start for nearly four months. The club are, therefore, taking every precaution possible to prevent any injury recurrence.
Chelsea have six players still on the sidelines
Trevoh Chalobah is back in team training, along with both Nkunku and Gusto so the Blues’ injury list is beginning to shorten.
However, the likes of Romeo Lavia (thigh), Lesley Ugochukwu (hamstring), Robert Sanchez (knee), Marc Cucurella (ankle), Reece James (hamstring) and Wesley Fofana (ACL) are still undergoing rehabilitation.
Out of those six, Sanchez is probably the nearest to making his comeback. The goalkeeper took to social media at the end of last week to claim he was “nearly” ready to play.
There is less certainty about Lavia and Ugochukwu, with no estimates given on their return from their respective muscular injuries. Cucurella could be available at some point next month, but James and Fofana are long-term absentees. The former had an operation last month and could be sidelined until April, while the latter may not play again this season.