Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has ruled Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia out of the club’s clash with Newcastle this weekend.
The summer signings are still awaiting their debuts for the west Londoners after picking up injuries this season, though each are closing in on a first-team return.
Nkunku sustained a knee problem in pre-season and is nearing his first Chelsea appearance, but Pochettino confirmed the trip to Newcastle will come too soon for the £52m recruit.
“(Levi) Colwill yes. Lavia and Nkunku still out,” Pochettino said at his pre-match press conference on Chelsea’s available options.
“It’s difficult to assess them. They are in a good condition. Nkunku a little ahead of Lavia. Doing things with the group last week, still not full recovery.”
Pochettino spoke further on Nkunku’s potential return and admits he is looking forward to having last season’s Bundesliga top scorer among his attacking options.
“Last week, in few training sessions, still he’s not full recovery to be part of the tactical sessions. He is a player, a fantastic player that was top scorer in Bundesliga and he can play in different positions. Really bad luck to lose him for the beginning of the season.
“Step by step we will find the best way for him to fit in the team. He needs to build his form and be in his best XI to then compete with players.”
Asked if there was perhaps too much pressure on Nkunku to hit the ground running, Pochettino added: “Chelsea, there is always expectation but we need to understand he came from an injury, he needs time, need to be patient with him to start to compete, play. It’s not a competition he is used to playing, coming from the Bundesliga and he needs to recover from his injury, to know the league. Always is to have time to perform his best.”
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