Reece James will begin on the bench for Chelsea in their Premier League clash against Brentford, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.
The Chelsea captain has been struggling with a hamstring injury which has kept him sidelined since the opening day of the season against Liverpool.
James returned to the Chelsea team against Arsenal, coming off the bench in the second half as they settled for a point after drawing 2-2 despite taken a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge.
Malo Gusto, who returned from suspension last weekend, has been covering the England international during his absence and the Frenchman looks set to start at right-back in the west London derby on Saturday.
James is getting closer to making a full recovery but Pochettino revealed ahead of the Premier League encounter that the defender isn’t ready to start.
“No, he is still not ready to start,” confirmed the Chelsea head coach. “He is doing well. He is really close. At the moment, tomorrow (Saturday) he will be on the bench.”
Chelsea will also be without Armando Broja, who suffered a minor knee problem. Pochettino admitted: “No, he is not going to be available.”
Other absentees for Chelsea include: Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka, Wesley Fofana, Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku.
Pochettino is expecting a difficult challenge against Thomas Frank’s side and knows his team have a long way to go before he is completely satisfied as they eye silverware.
“It’s going to be tough because they are a good team and doing well. We are ready to face a very good team. It’s a nice challenge for us.”
He added: “We still need to improve. We need to recover all our players. The circumstances at the beginning didn’t help.
“We are building a very strong team. The mentality is there. We are happy in the way that we’ve evolved, but still far away from what we expect.”
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