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Pochettino explains Nkunku ‘risk’ as Chelsea debut chances vs Newcastle revealed



(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed how many minutes Christopher Nkunku could play for Chelsea against Newcastle United.

Nkunku, 26, was named on the bench against Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon, however he wasn’t selected by Pochettino to come on during the 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

The France international’s return from a pre-season knee injury is almost complete after his return to full training and the squad. Nkunku will be included in Tuesday night’s squad for their Carabao Cup quarter-final clash against Newcastle, who they are seeking revenge on after the 4-1 defeat in the Premier League last month.

Pochettino was unable to take a risk on bringing Nkunku on against the Blades on Saturday and instead has saved him for the midweek cup tie.

The Chelsea head coach explained the decision to mitigate any risk of rushing the forward back in case of an instant setback.

(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pochettino also confirmed how much he could use Nkunku, if selected, against Eddie Howe’s side.

“The reality was, he wasn’t a player to be involved after 2-0,” Pochettino told reporters on Monday afternoon during his pre-match press conference. “I didn’t want to take a risk with him.

“How I see today? I tell you maybe he can play 20 minutes. Before Sheffield United in my mind, I was one or two percent of doubt, that is why I did not want to take a risk. That is how I explained it to him. I need to be 100 percent. If I have one percent doubt…

“It was good for him to feel the warm up and be with the team. That was amazing. Why take a risk when it was 2-0 when I was thinking I don’t know if it was the right moment?”

Chelsea will be without nine players for the Carabao Cup tie, while Noni Madueke has returned to full training and will be pushing to feature after his Blues future was confirmed. Lewis Hall has been granted permission to play against his parent club following Chelsea’s permission to allow him to be involved if selected.