Friday, June 21, 2024

Chelsea handed double fitness boost ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion game

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Chelsea are handed a double fitness boost ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has been provided with a further fitness boost ahead of Wednesday’s fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Blues will make the trip to the Amex Stadium on the back of three successive victories in the top flight, overcoming Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest respectively.

At the start of that run of fixtures, Pochettino was without 14 first-team players, naming a substitutes’ bench against Spurs that did not feature a single outfield player who had a Premier League start to his name.

However, the injury situation has drastically improved since then, Chelsea welcoming back six players for the meeting with West Ham three days later and Reece James also able to make his return against Forest six days later.

With just a week of the season remaining, the prospect of welcoming back more players appeared unlikely with no risks expected to be taken.

Nevertheless, Chelsea revealed on Tuesday lunchtime that two squad members have stepped up their recovery to such an extent that they were now participating in full training.

© Reuters

Chilwell, Chukwuemeka pushing to return

Ben Chilwell has struggled with a knee issue sustained while on international duty with England in March, the left-back making just two brief substitute appearances since then.

Meanwhile, Carney Chukwuemeka has also been restricted with a knee problem this campaign, not featuring since an 18-minute outing against Everton on April 15.

Speaking at a press conference shortly after the official update, Pochettino told reporters: “I think it was very good news last game to have too many players back on track.

“I think Chilly is really close but he is not 100% to be part of the squad. Carney Chukwuemeka, also. We need to assess whether they can be part of the squad for tomorrow, but if not for tomorrow, maybe for the weekend.”

Chelsea midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka preparing to score against Leicester City on March 24, 2024.© Reuters

Why both players should not expect a return to the squad

For the first time in what feels like months, there were no unproven academy players on the substitutes’ bench for the game at Forest.

Cesare Casadei was the least experienced, alongside Lesley Ugochukwu who has been out injured since December and had barely featured beforehand.

With Enzo Fernandez injured, at least one of those players will remain in reserve, potentially both, to provide backup for central midfield, and it puts in doubt whether a spot can be found for Chilwell or Chukwuemeka.

While one of Axel Disasi or Levi Colwill could plausibly miss out to accommodate Chilwell, the chances are they will not because they offer cover at both centre-back and full-back.

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