Christopher Nkunku returns boost Chelsea squad ahead of Newcastle game
Chelsea have a smaller group to work with at Cobham as a number of their stars including Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo and Conor Gallagher represent their international sides.
The international break is well underway for the third time this season and once again Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino have to deal with anxiety and anticipation of not being in control of their own players. As always the bulk of the Blues’ squad have flown around the world to represent their respective nations with the likes of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo having already featured in South American World Cup qualifying.
Pochettino has been left with a smaller group to work with, albeit a talented one with the likes of Reece James training at Cobham. However, the likes of Thiago Silva has been afforded some time off.
The larger worries will lie around those players featuring in international matches. Injuries, late returns and more will be playing on the minds of Chelsea staff ahead of Newcastle upon the Premier League’s return.
Put simply, Chelsea would be able to use the period in the build up to Newcastle to recover all of their players. Pochettino has already suggested that Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia on well on their way to full fitness and the Blues head coach will have an opportunity to work closely with them should their trajectory allow.
Levi Colwill pulling out of the England squad too, will hopefully see ample time for the defender to recover from a shoulder injury to be in contention to face the Magpies as Pochettino works with a solid back four given the absences with Reece James, Benoit Badiashile and Marc Cucurella all available to train.
With Fernandez and Caicedo set to play into the early hours of Wednesday morning, followed by a long journey back to west London, perhaps early substitutions as a minimum would provided some much-needed recovery.
A third cap for Djordje Petrovic on the other hand would provide some playing time for the goalkeeper, while Ian Maatsen spending longer on the pitch for Netherlands Under-21s versus Sweden could help him build some momentum having been taken off early against Gibraltar to prepare for that match.
Goalscoring outings for Noni Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk for England Under-21s and Ukraine respectively would set them up well. The former has started just once for Chelsea in the Premier League this term.
It would be difficult to begrudge a Cole Palmer a debut too given the form he has displayed thus far. To see him continue to build his confidence and momentum would only help the Blues, while a goal or two for Nicolas Jackson on Senegal duty would not go amiss.
Chelsea’s worst case scenario would inevitably be the opposite of the above and see the Blues ravaged by injuries and late returns. Fernandez and Caicedo are obvious causes for concern but perhaps Conor Gallagher is the greatest risk for the Blues.
Gareth Southgate has already highlighted the midfielder arrive in the England camp with an issue. The England boss praised the midfielder’s mentality.
He said: “This week is a classic for me. He has come with a bit of a knock from the weekend, but he walked through the door saying, ‘It is a bit sore, but I will be fine for Friday’. There was no way he was going home, there was no way he wasn’t going to give himself every chance. He wasn’t able to train for the first few days, but he was determined he would be available – and that, in a nutshell, is what is going to be one of his greatest strengths which will allow himself to achieve everything he might in the game. His mentality is outstanding.”
Hopefully that doesn’t backfire.