“We cannot take the risk” – Why £52m star is a doubt despite goalscoring return

Chelsea’s injury list has dwindled to almost nothing, but there were still some lineup questions to be answered in the press conference today.

One of those was about Christopher Nkunku and whether he would be ready for a first start since February after a goalscoring appearance off the bench against Brighton in midweek.

“He played more than we expected because of the problem with Mudryk, he played 70 minutes. More than we planned,” Pochettino responded when asked about the £52m man’s fitness.

“We will assess him tomorrow if he can start. 90 minutes is hard for him to play after playing on Wednesday. We don’t need to take risks. We will take the best decision for him, first, and then the team. We cannot take the risk. He needs to finish well with good feelings, and start preseason like Reece James.”

Fans are really keen to see Nkunku make an impact on the team after tantalising flashes every time he gets a brief run in the team. With Mykhailo Mudryk in the concussion protocol, this seems a perfect chance.

Caution natural after disrupted season

Pochettino makes the good point that it was actually more like 70 minutes which the Frenchman played on Wednesday. While he came on in the 41st minute, there was 10 minutes extra time at the end of the first half, and 10 at the end of the second half too.

That does add up to a lot for a player who had only had one sub appearance before that since returning from his latest injury, and must have a pretty low overall aerobic fitness at the moment thanks to such a disrupted season.

It seems clear that Pochettino will use Nkunku if he’s given the medical all clear, but given the priority is not taking risks and Raheem Sterling is also ready to go, right now it feels like a toss-up between the two of them.

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