Chelsea confirm Christopher Nkunku and Lavia will make debut against Sheffield United

 The 26-year-old France striker could finally begin his Chelsea career when the Blues take on Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday

<p>Christopher Nkunku has not yet played for Chelsea</p>
Christopher Nkunku has not yet played for Chelsea

Christopher Nkunku could make his long-awaited Chelsea debut when the Blues take on Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Nkunku signed from RB Leipzig for around £52m in the summer but soon underwent surgery on his knee and is yet to play for his new club. The 26-year-old Frenchman has taken part in full training this week, however, and his manager, Mauricio Pochettino, confirmed that the forward will be part of the squad this weekend to face the Blades.

“Very good news,” Pochettino said on Nkunku’s recovery. “He will be in the squad and feel the competition and be with his teammates. But we need to be calm and quiet, not to put all the pressure on him.”

Right-back Malo Gusto is also back in full training, but captain Reece James and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez are set for a lengthy period out of action, after both players sustained injuries last weekend.

James had to be substituted in the first half of the defeat by Everton, while Sanchez and defender Marc Cucurella were both forced off later in the game.

Scans this week confirmed that James had picked up yet another hamstring injury, having already missed a chunk of the season with the same problem. The injury-prone right-back has started only six matches and faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“We need to go in depth in the situation,” Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday. “He is a little bit down as he was excited to come back. We brought him back step-by-step, the perfect way to build his confidence and make a full recovery. It is difficult for him to accept. He is really frustrated.”


Sanchez’s knee injury is being treated by a specialist and is likely to mean Djordje Petrovic will deputise when Chelsea host Sheffield United on Saturday, whom Pochettino believes has “huge potential. This is the moment for him to step up.”

Chelsea said in a statement: “Following initial assessments, Cucurella is now due to meet foot and ankle specialists with next steps to be decided in the coming days. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Sanchez has undergone assessments on his knee with the club’s medical department and specialists.

“The news follows the club’s announcement earlier this week regarding captain Reece James, with results confirming a significant hamstring injury for the 24-year-old.”

Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka, Wesley Fofana, Lesley Ugochukwu and Noni Madueke all remain out of contention, while midfielder Romeo Lavia is back in partial training.


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