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Chilwell, James, Havertz: Potter sweating on fitness of Chelsea duo ahead of Villa clash



IMAGO / Sportimage

Graham Potter will be hoping Reece James and Kai Havertz will be fit for Chelsea to face Aston Villa after their early international withdrawals.

Chelsea return to domestic action this weekend when they welcome Unai Emery’s Villa side to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

They are currently on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions. Chelsea were denied a fourth straight victory against Everton after Ellis Simms’ 89th minute equaliser to frustrate the Blues heading into the international break.

After Chelsea’s resurgence in morale and results in March, many players earned call-ups to their national teams. James and Ben Chilwell have recently returned from injuries and earned call-ups to the England squad, while Kai Havertz who has netted three in his last three headed off to the Germany camp.

Wesley Fofana remained in England after having to pull out of the France team, while Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount were not fit enough to join up with the Three Lions.

Noni Madueke and Joao Felix were two of the Chelsea players to get on the scoresheet during the international break, but Potter will be more concerned with whether or not James and Havertz will be available to face Aston Villa on Saturday evening.

Here is the latest updates on Chilwell, James and Havertz ahead of the league affair in the capital:

Ben Chilwell

The 26-year-old has made his return for club and country in recent weeks following a lengthy lay-off with a hamstring injury sustained just before the 2022 World Cup.

Chilwell has impressed for Chelsea after reclaiming his place in Potter’s side, scoring against his former side Leicester City earlier this month, and his comeback was rewarded with a call-up to the England squad for their games against Italy and Ukraine.

Luke Shaw was sent off against Italy which saw Chilwell picked by Gareth Southgate to start and play 90 minutes – his first appearance for England since 2021 – against Ukraine which England won 2-0 at Wembley to make it two wins from two to begin their 2024 European Championships qualification campaign.

Chilwell was glad to be back involved and getting back up to full speed, which will only come as a benefit for Potter in the final weeks of the season.

“It’s been a while since I put the jersey on, so I wanted to make sure I played well,” said Chilwell, as quoted by Standard Sport. “It was (the hope of having) moments like putting that shirt on tonight that kept me going.

“To know that the hard work paid off and to get the chance to start again for England, I’m very happy.

“International football is very difficult in its own right. But when you’re playing well for your club, you bring that form into international games.”

Reece James

The Chelsea defender has slowly been working his way back from a knee injury which also saw him miss the World Cup. As a result, he earned his place in the latest England camp but was forced to withdraw early prior to the Ukraine win due to a hamstring problem.

Southgate confirmed: “Reece has gone back, he’s not completely happy with how his leg feels. He was a little bit concerned about that earlier in the week.”

He added: “I think, probably for him, the injury after the injury that ruled him out of the World Cup has made him a little more cautious at this moment in time. It probably needs some time.

“It is not unusual to have a serious injury and then smaller injuries on the back of that. With Reece, it is a case of building his resilience to load and him being comfortable with that.

“With him, the club tends to play a game and we are a bit more cautious on the next one. He is a really good player and he has got absolutely everything and could be anything he wants to be. This is a temporary thing and hopefully he can overcome that pretty quickly.”

Chelsea and James will hope it was only precautionary and that he can feature in training back at Cobham this week to be in contention to face Villa.

Kai Havertz

The 23-year-old was forced to withdraw from the Germany camp early after their 2-0 friendly win over Peru.

A DFB statement confirmed: “Kai Havertz has travelled home from the squad due to illness.”