Mauricio Pochettino said he will not rush Christopher Nkunku back into action for Chelsea as he called for patience in the France forward’s recovery from injury.
Nkunku has yet to make his competitive debut for Chelsea after suffering a knee problem during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.
The 26-year-old, signed from RB Leipzig for £52 million ($65 million) in the close season, is back in training as he steps up his rehabilitation.
There had been suggestions Nkunku was in line to feature for the Blues at Newcastle on Saturday.
But, despite being fit enough to have taken part in training with the first team, Nkunku has not worked tactically with the squad yet and Pochettino has no intention of throwing him in too soon.
“Nkunku was doing things with the group last week. But he’s not fully recovered to be part of the squad,” Pochettino said on Friday.
“He’s a fantastic player, top scorer in the Bundesliga last season. He can play different positions, his quality is amazing. It’s really bad luck to lose him from the beginning of the season.
“We’re going to find the best way for him to fit in the team. He needs to build his form and be at his best level.
“We need to understand he’s coming back from injury, he will need time. We will be patient with him. It’s not a competition that he’s normally used to.”
After a poor start to Pochettino’s reign, the Argentine led Chelsea to five wins from their eight games in all competitions prior to the recent international break.
That spell included a 4-1 win at London rivals Tottenham and a thrilling 4-4 draw with champions Manchester City.
Pochettino hopes his 10th-placed side’s rhythm will not be disrupted when they return to action at Newcastle.
“The break came at a bad time,” he said. “It came in a moment we were building a way to play, results were on our side. But I believe we can keep momentum even after two weeks with no competition.
“We’re a young team, we started to work four months ago. We need to be more mature, more patient. We cannot get frustrated so soon when things don’t work.”