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Potter explains key reason for half-time substitution vs Leicester to hand Chelsea massive injury boost



(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Graham Potter has explained his reasoning for substituting Joao Felix at half-time against Leicester City after deciding to bring Conor Gallagher on at the break.

The 23-year-old was selected to start for Chelsea against the Foxes and within two minutes felt the full force of Leicester defender Ricardo Pereira. His fellow Portuguese countryman was late and nastily studded Felix’s ankle, putting a lot of pain on the forward.

Referee Andre Marriner didn’t deem it a bookable offence, nor did VAR, and Felix went on with his business for the rest of the first half.

He almost had the next laugh when he brilliantly took down Kai Havertz’s lofted through ball in behind the hosts’ defence, but his dink over Danny Ward came back off the post to frustrate Felix, who has only scored one goal since joining Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid in January.

11 minutes before half-time, Felix thought he doubled Chelsea’s lead at the King Power after slotting in from close range after Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s low cross into the box, but the flag was raised for offside.

It wasn’t meant to be for Felix and his afternoon ended at half-time with the score 2-1 following Havertz’s stunning goal in stoppage time.

Potter made the call to bring on Gallagher for the final 45 minutes and it was Felix, just like against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, to make way.

The Chelsea head coach was asked to explain his decision at full-time and insisted it was due to tactical reasons and not because of an injury problem.

“No, just tactically, I wanted to use an extra midfielder,” Potter said. “I felt we needed someone who could ball win, a different profile and I thought Conor was fantastic when he came on.”

Chelsea went on to score one more goal courtesy of Mateo Kovacic in the 78th minute to seal a 3-1 win and all three points, clinching a third straight win in all competitions to cap off a perfect week.

“It’s been a really good week,” reflected Potter. “Three wins. A determined performance against Leeds and then a great one against Dortmund and to back it up today is really good from the players because it’s not easy to do that in the Premier League, so I’m delighted for them.

“I’m delighted for the supporters, they were fantastic.”

He added: “There is a difference that a week makes. Results help things, it develops belief and confidence.

“Really pleased for the players because they’ve had a tough period but they’ve been rewarded with a really positive week.”

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