Huge blow as Chelsea  set to miss Nine [9] key players vs Burnley with Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez update

Huge blow as Chelsea  set to miss Nine [9] key players vs Burnley with Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez update

There is a small but possible chance that an entire XI of Chelsea players will miss the Premier League clash against Burnley on Saturday. Despite the two-week international break offering a chance for some to get back to fitness, Mauricio Pochettino has so far seen it have the opposite effect.

He is now preparing to take on Vincent Kompany’s relegation-bound side without a key core of players. The mitigation here is that most of them have been unavailable, or far from their sharpest, all season.

Two players won’t feature again this season. Wesley Fofana is yet to be confirmed as out, but Pochettino has revealed his own doubts about the Frenchman being back in action. Romeo Lavia will end up only playing 32 minutes more than Fofana.

“Midfielder Romeo Lavia is to unfortunately miss the remainder of our 2023-24 campaign following a setback in his recovery,” a statement from the club read on Wednesday. “Recent medical assessments have confirmed that Lavia, who sustained a significant thigh injury against Crystal Palace back in December, will not feature again this season.”

Pochettino himself opened up on the struggles for Lavia this season. “It’s a really difficult situation for him, of course,” he said on Thursday. “He is sad, he is not happy because he only played 30 minutes. For a new player arriving at the club, it’s a thing that sometimes happen in football. When the club signed him, he arrived with problems from Southampton.

“If you remember, he cannot train with us in the first months. And then, when he started to be ready to prepare, he suffered a problem in his feet. Then, when he recovered, he played only 30 minutes, got injured, and from December, we didn’t have the possibility to train with him. He was never available for training; he was never really close.

“That is the thing in the last few months, after December, that we never had the possibility to train with him. Yes, really sad news because always a new player who arrives at the club, he wants to play, to perform, to help the team and now we need to wait until the pre-season and the next season for him to be available and help the team.”

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He added: “No [it’s not the same injury as he arrived with], it’s a different problem. It’s difficult to explain the situation because I am not a doctor and be precise with the information. The most important thing is to make clear that in nine months, only a few weeks he was with us, training with us.

“He arrived and he could not train. When the club signed him, he was injured. I think it was his hip, or I don’t know, that was the problem. Then when he started to train with us, he suffered a knock in his feet.

“After he was training with us for a few weeks, he was available against Wolverhampton but he didn’t go in, and then against Crystal Palace he played 30 minutes and got injured in his quad and never again had the possibility to train with us.

“I don’t know, you showed me, ‘the methods of Pochettino are so hard’, no? But he didn’t train with me. He is sad. It is a sad situation. We hope he can become stronger and for sure, we are going to help him to become stronger and be available for the pre-season and the next season to show his quality.”

These are far from the only problems at play, though. Carney Chukwuemeka and Trevoh Chalobah were both added to the club’s injury list ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge. Chukwuemeka originally went away with England’s Under-21 side before returning to Cobham to build up fitness following an unknown problem.

He is a doubt for the game, as is Chalobah. He spent the entire break at the Surrey training base and was also a fresh name on the official injury list, despite no explanation of what had happened. He returned to the team in the month before the break but is now only in partial team training.

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Also in defence, Levi Colwill missed the last few weeks with a toe problem and wasn’t selected by England. He hasn’t yet been seen in training images. Pohettino didn’t address him specifically but did say, “Today was a training session to put everyone at the same level and to check for tomorrow to prepare the game and see if they can be available. Not too many new news.”

Malo Gusto and Cole Palmer have been training despite respective worries in the past fortnight. Gusto returned from the France Under-23 camp with illness, while Palmer didn’t play a minute for England, having arrived at St George’s Park with a knock.

He was on the bench for the second friendly against Belgium on Tuesday but Pochettino is hopeful he can now be involved for his club. “I was talking with him, he was a little bit disappointed because he cannot play or perform with the national team,” the coach explained. “I think the first game he had a small problem. He thought that he could play in the second game against Belgium but didn’t play.

“Now he is okay, he was training well. There is still one training session more tomorrow, but the plan is if he is tomorrow in the same way, then he will be available for the game on Saturday.”

The same cannot be said of Ben Chilwell. He was picked for England despite seemingly getting another setback with Chelsea in the 4-2 win over Leicester. Chilwell started both games for the Three Lions, somewhat to the amazement of Pochettino. “Still we need to assess a few players like [Ben] Chilwell, who came from the national team playing two games after he didn’t play with us,” Pochettino said. “He got a knock in his leg, on his knee, today he wasn’t ready to train.

“We will see what happens tomorrow, whether he will be available for the squad. We need to assess him.” He added of the left-back’s game time for his country: “Surprised, not surprised, I don’t know.

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“If he cannot play for us or be available, and because he didn’t play after Brentford with us, he only played a few minutes against Leicester in the FA Cup. Yes, it was a situation that he started two games, maybe it’s a surprise for us.

“But it’s bad luck because he got a dead leg in the last moment in the game against Belgium. That’s another bit of bad luck we have because we need to assess whether he can be available.”

There is also a wait to be had over Enzo Fernandez. He was in action with Argentina on Wednesday morning, only getting to the club on Thursday. Fernandez has previously looked fatigued in matches following lengthy travel and may now have to be carefully managed.

“A few players also like Enzo didn’t arrive,” Pochettino said. Now the wait is on to see who is deemed fit to start. Reece James and Lesley Ugochukwu are also out with their own long-term problems – the latter of which is slowly getting towards the point of also not playing again this season.

James will hope to be back in contention by the end of April. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Rob Sanchez has also been added to the injury list, though no reason has been given. Christopher Nkunku is not yet back to team training after yet another setback dented his first season at the club.

It means that there is a chance that Chelsea’s non-starting XI on Saturday could look like this: Sanchez; James, Chalobah, Fofana, Colwill, Chilwell; Lavia, Ugochukwu, Fernandez; Chukwuemeka, Nkunku.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a full side of players unavailable could be fielded either. Has Pochettino had to deal with this before? “No. Always something happens. After 15 years of being coach, maybe one season it happened like this.”

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