For the third time this season, the international break has begun, and Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino are dealing with the dread and anticipation of not being able to control their own players. The majority of the Blues’ squad has flown around the world to represent their individual countries, with Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo having previously competed in South American World Cup qualifiers.
Pochettino has been given a reduced squad to deal with, albeit a strong one, with Reece James training at Cobham. Thiago Silva, on the other hand, has been given some time off.
The greater concern will be for those players participating in international contests. Injuries, late returns, and other factors will be on the thoughts of Chelsea’s coaching staff as the Premier League returns. football.london examines the best and worst-case scenarios that could emerge over the next seven days.
Simply said, Chelsea would be able to use the time between now and Newcastle to rest all of their players. Pochettino has previously stated that Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia are well on their way to full fitness, and the Blues head coach will be able to work closely with them if their current trajectory allows.
With Levi Colwill leaving the England squad, there should be enough time for the defender to recover from a shoulder injury and be in contention to face the Magpies, as Pochettino works with a solid back four despite the absences, with Reece James, Benoit Badiashile, and Marc Cucurella all available to train.
With Fernandez and Caicedo expected to play until the early hours of Wednesday morning, followed by a long journey back to west London, early substitutions could provide some much-needed rest.
A third cap for Djordje Petrovic, on the other hand, would provide the custodian some playing time, while Ian Maatsen receiving more time on the pitch for the Netherlands Under-21s against Sweden might help him create some momentum after being taken off early against Gibraltar to prepare for that match.
Noni Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk would benefit from goal-scoring performances for England Under-21s and Ukraine, respectively. This season, the former has made just one Premier League start for Chelsea.
Given his recent form, it’s impossible to argue against Cole Palmer making his complete debut. It would be beneficial for the Blues to see him continue to gain confidence and momentum, while a goal or two for Nicolas Jackson on Senegal duty would be welcome.
Chelsea’s worst-case scenario would surely be the inverse of the above, with the Blues decimated by injuries and late returns. Although Fernandez and Caicedo are clear concerns, Conor Gallagher may pose the greatest threat to the Blues.
Gareth Southgate has already stated that the midfielder arrived in England camp with a problem. England manager Gareth Southgate lauded the midfielder’s mentality.
“This week is a classic for me,” he remarked. He arrived with a knock from the weekend, but he stepped in the door saying, “It’s a little sore, but I’ll be fine for Friday.” There was no way he was going home, no way he wasn’t going to give himself every opportunity. He wasn’t able to train for the first few days, but he was determined to be available – and that, in a nutshell, is one of his best assets, allowing him to achieve everything he could in the game. His mentality is exceptional.”
I hope that doesn’t backfire.