Friday, June 21, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino comments on return to fitness of key Chelsea attacker

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Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino admits that he needs to see “consistency” from one of his returning players.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has called for “consistency” from Christopher Nkunku in the future.

The France international has endured a frustrating first year at Stamford Bridge since making the switch from RB Leipzig last summer.

A knee injury during the back end of pre-season resulted in the versatile attacker being sidelined until December, before a hip issue ruled him out of several more matches.

Although Nkunku would return to the fold ahead of the EFL Cup final towards the end of February, he suffered a hamstring injury during that fixture that would see the 26-year-old not feature again for more than two months.

However, the forward has since been able to put together three appearances in May where he has gradually been able to increase his fitness and sharpness, as well as make a key contribution.

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Nkunku scores pivotal goal against Brighton

On Wednesday night, Nkunku was required to make an early appearance from the substitutes’ bench against Brighton & Hove Albion courtesy of Mykhaylo Mudryk being forced off with a head injury.

Pochettino may have felt uneasy in introducing Nkunku at that stage of the game, yet made the decision to involve him ahead of other attacking options.

The change paid off with Nkunku sweeping home from inside the area after getting on the end of a smart Malo Gusto cutback just before the midway point of the second half, Chelsea eventually securing a 2-1 victory.

Nkunku subsequently completed the game and will now come into contention for Sunday’s key Premier League encounter at home to Bournemouth.

Nevertheless, Pochettino admitted that the £52m signing now needs to find a way to find ‘consistency’, both in terms of fitness and performance.

What did Pochettino have to say?

Speaking to reporters, as quoted by football.london, Pochettino said: “He was suffering a lot with injuries. He needs to now be consistent, consistent. He was so tired at the end and played only 60 minutes.

“I am so happy for him because he was suffering and now he scores goals and be involved with the team. I am happy for him first and of course for the team because we are adding a player that is very important for us.”

Whether Pochettino will risk Nkunku from the start against Bournemouth remains to be seen, with just two starts and 11 substitute outings having been made all season.

Nkunku now has three goals to his name, his other two efforts also coming in away fixtures at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool respectively.

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