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Pochettino urges Chelsea fans to be patient with Nkunku’s recovery

Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that Christopher Nkunku is likely to make his Chelsea debut in Tuesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has cautioned fans not to anticipate an immediate resolution to the team’s issues with Nkunku‘s introduction.

The 26-year-old has been sidelined since sustaining a knee injury during the pre-season United States tour, shortly after joining from RB Leipzig for £52 million. Despite being the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season with 16 goals, he was included in Pochettino’s squad for the first time in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Sheffield United, where the team secured back-to-back Premier League home victories for the first time in over a year.

Although Nkunku warmed up during the second half, Pochettino chose not to debut him, expressing a “one or two per cent doubt” about his readiness. However, the French international is expected to feature for the first time on Tuesday for Pochettino’s side, who, despite enjoying 80% possession in the first half against Sheffield United, managed only a single shot on target before breaking the deadlock in the 54th minute.

“How I see today (Monday), I can tell you maybe he can play 20 minutes,” said the manager. “How I saw him before Saturday in my mind I had one per cent to two per cent of doubt. That’s why I didn’t want to take a risk.

“I need to be one hundred per cent, then things can happen. But if I have one per cent doubt…?

“It was good for him to feel in the warm-up, being involved with the team. But why take a risk when it was 2-0?

“One per cent in my mind was thinking I don’t know if it’s the right moment.”

Pochettino admits Nkunku needs time

Chelsea has scored 28 goals in 17 league matches this season, which is nine more than what they had scored at the same stage last year. Last season, they ultimately registered their lowest goal tally in nearly a century, amounting to 38 goals.

Despite this improved goal-scoring record, Chelsea’s performance has been marked by irregular bursts of success. They notably failed to score in any league matches throughout September but rebounded later on, scoring 14 goals in five games.

In the recent match on Saturday, Chelsea disappointed their fans with an exceptionally poor first half, during which they struggled to create even a single scoring opportunity.

“(Nkunku has trained) only in the last few weeks, after four or five months he was out,” said Pochettino. “The team has evolved and the situation has changed.

“My worry is to put too much pressure on him, to say ‘now has arrived the guy to make us win every single game, to change everything’. I don’t believe it’s going to be like that.

“He needs time to recover his fitness. Hopefully he’ll play tomorrow and score three goals, then be consistent. But the most important thing is not to put too much pressure on him.

“He still hasn’t made his debut in the Premier League and we know how tough that can be for every player that came from outside of England.”

Ethan Dempsey
Ethan Dempsey
Ethan is a lifelong football fan. When he is not obsessing over the Premier League games, Ethan likes to read fantasy tomes, watch football documentaries and waste hours upon hours on video games.
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