Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino explains why he did not sub on Christopher Nkunku
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 16, 2023 - 09:52PM
The Frenchman was on the bench but did not play in Saturday’s win (Picture: Getty)

says he will tread very carefully with ’s injury recovery after leaving the Frenchman on the bench in ’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United.

The 26-year-old, a £52million signing in the summer, is yet to make his debut for the west Londoners after suffering a knee injury during pre-season.

He was in the squad for the very first time on Saturday, , but he was not subbed on despite Chelsea not using their full allocation of changes.

The Blues dominated Saturday’s game, enjoying 78 per cent possession and racking up 15 shots, while the visitors only mustered one effort on target.

Despite that, they were frustrated for much of the first half before Cole Palmer broke the deadlock in the 54th minute and then Nicolas Jackson bagged a game-killing second goal just seven minutes later.

Although Sheffield United offered little threat of a comeback, Pochettino opted to keep Nkunku on the bench despite Chelsea fans being desperate to finally see the France international in action.

But Pochettino, who is already dealing with a raft of injuries, does not want to move too quickly with the former RB Leipzig attacker’s recovery.

Nkunku watched from the bench as Chelsea swatted aside the Blades (Picture: Getty)

Asked why he declined to hand Nkunku a long-awaited debut, Pochettino told BBC Match of the Day: ‘We didn’t want to take a risk with him and give him more time for his recovery.’

On his side’s much-improved display after back-to-back losses, Pochettino continued: ‘I’m very pleased. The performance was good.

‘It’s always good against a team who play aggressively with a low block.

‘In the second half we changed the position of Palmer and Raheem Sterling, we tried to put Palmer and Mudryk in a better position in front of goal.

‘I’m confident, even when we lose. I really believe in the players and the club. Now it’s about to use that in the next competition in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.’

On man of the match Palmer, he added: ‘For me he’s a playmaker, a player who can link the team. He’s also a player with the capacity to score goals and give assists. The contribution of Cole Palmer from day one has been massive.’

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