Chelsea are not yet sure what sort of role Reece James will be able to play against Tottenham on Monday as the club captain continues to return from injury. James started his first game in nearly three months during the 2-0 win over Blackburn in midweek after back-to-back substitute appearances in games against Arsenal and Brentford before that.
James’ chequered injury history suggests that he is not one to rush with a track record of rebound issues and picking up knocks shortly after recovery in recent years. However, with a game as big as a trip to Spurs the Blues will be hopeful of having their captain back fit.
Mauricio Pochettino remained coy on just how much the 23-year-old will be able to get through though, urging caution ahead of the game. “I don’t know [if he can play a full 90 minutes]. We’ll see. We’ll see if he’s available,” the manager said on Friday.
“It was good for him to start a game after a few months, he’s a very important player.” Chelsea have turned to 20-year-old Malo Gusto, natural centre-back Axel Disasi and even left-back Marc Cucurella in an attempt to cover for James’ noticeable absence from the side but little comes close to the balancing effect he has on the team when fit.
James played just over an hour of the Carabao Cup win on Wednesday and now has an extra few days to recover due to the Monday scheduling for this London derby. “The plan was to check at half time how he feels and how he was,” Pochettino explained in midweek.
“After 15 minutes he started to feel tired. and we were checking from the second half. He was a little bit tired and we need to be careful how we manage him. Of course, I think at that moment we decide to make that change.
“It is important now to make progress and to be careful not to go back. Sometimes maybe to play 90 minutes and take some risk but we need to avoid this. It is true we cannot avoid 100% of the risk but the plan is to go little by little.”
James then took to social media himself afterwards, writing on Instagram: “Long a** three months since I started, but good to get more minutes in the legs. Thanks for the continued support. Onto the quarter-finals. See you on Monday night [against Tottenham].”
The return for James is a boost but there is still a sizeable injury list for Pochettino to accommodate. Armando Broja has now been missing for the past three games having made a return ahead of the October international break – starting on October 2 and scoring against Fulham before playing 45 minutes a week later at Turf Moor.
He is still a doubt for the game here after another setback but there is hope. “Today we were talking and maybe he will be available to be on the bench for Monday. Hope he can be involved,” Pochettino said at Cobham. In what could be another attacking boost Mykhailo Mudryk also returned to team training after being out for the past two games.
He was a late omission from the team that lost to Brentford but will now be in the mix to travel to north London it seems. The same can be said for Cole Palmer after he was hobbling during the final minutes of the Blackburn win. The 21-year-old had been on the end of a a late challenge and took some time getting to his feet before moving gingerly before being taken off with five minutes to go.
It doesn’t seem to be anything serious though and he is expected to be central to plans for Monday. The same cannot be said for a still lengthy list of others.
Christopher Nkunku, Carney Chukwuemeka, Wesley Fofana, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell and Romeo Lavia are all out with no real indication of an imminent return for any of them. Tottenham themselves are likely to be without six players too as doubts remain over Ben Davies and Destiny Udogie. Manor Solomon, Ivan Perisic and Ryan Sessegnon are among those out..…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>