Kovacic, Koulibaly, Kante: Chelsea injury news and return dates before key Brighton clash
Chelsea made it nine games undefeated under Graham Potter in Tuesday, when they defeated RB Salzburg to secure a spot in the Champions League knockout rounds. It provides them with a game in hand against Dinamo Zagreb and may allow for additional rotation.
Potter will face a slew of familiar names in the Premier League when he returns to the south coast to play Brighton.
Amidst a crowded game calendar, the west Londoners already have a growing injury list. Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante, Wesley Fofana, and Reece James are all out with injury, leaving Potter with a little squad to choose from. With that in mind, football.london has examined Potter’s injury worries ahead of the weekend’s trip to his former club, Brighton.
James has been ruled out for at least eight weeks, with no chance of returning before Chelsea’s winter World Cup break.
The 22-year-old may miss the competition owing to wearing a protective boot for four weeks, but there’s a chance he’ll be included in Gareth Southgate’s team in the aim of recuperating in time for the finish of the tournament.
Potter stated: “The initial step is for him to wear a brace for four weeks to stabilise the knee, followed by therapy. As previously said, this will take around eight weeks. That is the most recent.”
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The defender was left out of the team to play United on Saturday after Potter revealed he had suffered a knee injury in the goalless draw with Brentford. Due to the injuries to Wesley Fofana and Reece James, Koulibaly has started four of the past five games.
Potter stated: “He only felt his knee towards the end of the game against Brentford. It’s not too horrible, but he’ll be too young to play in this game.
“We’ve lost Koulibaly, so we can’t play him, but we do have a few of guys back who recovered against Brentford. Thiago was unable to play over the week.
“So it’s a matter of managing the load, controlling the games, and selecting a side that can compete and hopefully win the game.”
Over the weekend, it was revealed that Kovacic was still nursing a knee injury that began before the season, and Potter’s previous two attempts to rest the 28-year-old were thwarted when he came on in the first half against both Brentford and Manchester United.
His presence in midfield has given Chelsea a tremendous lift in the last three games, and Potter will be hoping the issue isn’t too serious.
“Feeling his calf, it was a heavy pitch, a little of stiffness, and hopefully it’s not too terrible,” Potter added.