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Chilwell, Badiashile, Chukwuemeka, Nkunku: Pochettino offers quadruple Chelsea fitness boost



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Mauricio Pochettino has revealed three Chelsea players are ‘so close’ to returning from injury, while Christopher Nkunku is in contention for their crucial Carabao Cup semi-final tie against Middlesbrough next week.

Chelsea were without Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile and Carney Chukwuemeka against Preston North End as they cruised to a 4-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Saturday evening at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, Nkunku missed out with a hip injury sustained in the build-up to the cup tie and was left out of the squad on a precautionary basis.

“When we talk about the case of Nkunku, we don’t want to put pressure on him,” Pochettino told reporters after the FA Cup victory.

“We know it is difficult after a long time injured. Six months away is always tough.

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“Like now he wasn’t involved because he suffered after training yesterday (on Friday) a problem in his hip and we need to see if he can be ready for the next few games. That is the problem.”

Speculation had arisen that the France international would miss the next three weeks. However fears were quickly alleviated by RMC Sport’s Fabrice Hawkins, who confirmed Nkunku’s hip injury is ‘nothing serious’ and if all goes well, Nkunku will be available to face Middlesbrough or Fulham next week.

Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell and Carney Chukwuemeka have rejoined their teammates at Cobham on the grass following long-term injury lay-offs. Pochettino is continuing to be careful with the pair, as with centre-back Benoit Badiashile.

Pochettino added: “We are so close with Chilwell, Badiashile and Chukwuemeka but we need to see every day the evolution. Then it’s about if we can improve but they are so close.

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“Always the risk is really important and seeing how the players perform in the training session.

“All of the players when they go to the session all feel they are ready. If you ask they say ‘I know myself’ but 99.9 percent they make a mistake. They don’t know themself.

“Our opinion is good to see if they are available or not.”