Mauricio Pochettino not certain if Nkunku will play again this season for Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino not certain if Nkunku will play again this season for Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino says he still does not have a timeframe for Christopher Nkunku’s return to training but hopes he can still play some part for Chelsea before the end of the season.

The £52million signing has made just nine appearances in his first season at Stamford Bridge, with his injury woes starting in pre-season when he picked up a knee injury that sidelined him for the first four months of the campaign.

He has suffered further niggles since then and was working his way back to full fitness when he was introduced as a late second-half substitute in Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final defeat to Liverpool at the backend of February.

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But, during his cameo – which included playing 30 minutes of extra time – Nkunku picked up another injury that only came to light afterwards, with Pochettino initially expecting him to return to training in three or four weeks.

It has now been six-and-a-half weeks since Nkunku’s injury, however, and he is still not back in training, with Pochettino unsure over whether the Frenchman will be involved again in the run-in.

Asked if Nkunku is likely to play again this season, Pochettino replied: ‘I don’t know, I don’t know. Still we don’t know.’

Probed on whether he had suffered any setback in his recovery, with the Frenchman having been sidelined for longer than Pochettino’s initial estimate, the Chelsea boss replied: ‘To return to training? I don’t know if I said six weeks. At the moment we don’t know when it’s possible to start to train with the team.

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‘At the moment he’s not training with us. That setback that you say didn’t happen, I don’t have information about that.

‘His recovery was longer than we expected. That was after the [Carabao Cup] final if you remember, that I talked, where he played in the final 30 or 40 minutes with a problem and we didn’t know and then we found out after the game.

‘This type of circumstance, that affects in the end, overall, other things. Because it’s not only him. Too many players suffer this season.

‘But hope that he can be involved again quick, as soon as possible, in the dynamic of the team.

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‘And, of course, it would be really, really good if, before the end of the season, we can come with him and be part of the team again. Hope, hope, that happens.’

Chelsea, who have slipped to 12th place in the Premier League table after Bournemouth’s win on Tuesday evening, host Manchester United on Thursday evening before travelling to Sheffield United on Sunday.

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