Christopher Nkunku ‘very close’ to Chelsea injury return, Mauricio Pochettino confirms

Mauricio Pochettino says Christopher Nkunku is “very close” to a return from injury and hopes to have him back after the November international break.

The 25-year-old starred in Chelsea’s pre-season but was injured against Borussia Dortmund in the final game of their tour of the USA.

He has yet to make his competitive debut for Chelsea since his £47million summer move from RB Leipzig.

Pochettino confirmed Nkunku is set to return soon having trained on the grass for the first time this week.

The Argentine said: “He’s doing really well. He’s working really hard. I think he’s really close. As soon as possible we can have him involved. He’s a really important player for us.”

Christopher Nkunku impressed in pre-season before his injury (Getty Images)

Pochettino was asked to clarify exactly when he might return and said it “maybe” could be after the international break when Chelsea face Newcastle, Brighton and Manchester United.

Chelsea are in the midst of a difficult run of fixtures and face Brentford next, who beat them home and away last season.

With still sat in 10th place, despite a four-game unbeaten run, Pochettino admits missing Nkunku has been a factor: “When you see the goals he scored last season, he is a player who can provide goals and I think we are missing goals.

“That’s why I think he is a player that can be important for us because he proves that he can score goals in the Bundesliga.

“Of course, when you compare with other players, we could have eight goals from Nkunku, these are the goals we are missing to be in a different position.

“But yes, it is unlucky but we cannot complain and we must work. These things can happen and we are looking forward to recovering him and seeing if the team can score more goals to be in a different position in the table.”

Armando Broja joins Nkunku and five other players on Chelsea’s injury list for the west London derby on Saturday lunchtime. Reece James is available but is still not fit enough to start.

“No he’s still not ready to start,” said the coach. “He was training well and is really close, but tomorrow he’ll be on the bench.”


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