Ahead of this evening’s trip to Watford, Christian Pulisic has been discussing his stop-start journey back from injury and why competition is important but working together remains key…
Pulisic will be hoping for his first Premier League start since the opening weekend of the season at Vicarage Road following months of careful treatment and slow but steady progress recovering from an ankle injury sustained on international duty in September.
That issue sidelined him from a dozen Chelsea matches, the same number he missed at the start of 2020 with an abductor tear, though he has featured in our last seven games in all competitions, six as a substitute.
‘This injury was a tough one for me to get over,’ the American revealed this week. ‘I missed a lot of the first part of the season and I’m not a naturally patient person so I just wanted to get back as soon as possible.
‘There weren’t any real setbacks but there were times where I tried to come back and push it but it just wasn’t quite ready. It was just trying to manage how much I could do based off the pain that I was feeling.
‘It was important to have good communication with the medical and the training staff. I needed a certain amount of time for the injury to heal and then once you start to play again, obviously you want to take it a bit slower and come back into it easy.
‘Sometimes you’re going to feel a bit of pain and that’s just the way it is at the beginning but it’s got to be something you can deal with, and when it’s too much pain you have to let them know. Eventually I was able to make it back but it feels like a while so I’m definitely excited to get back into it.’
Pulisic has returned to a Chelsea side top both at home and abroad, although our lead in the Premier League was trimmed at the weekend courtesy of a 1-1 home draw with Manchester United, during which the 23-year-old came off the bench and set up a big late chance for Antonio Rudiger.
‘I saw it and it was a perfect ball, right on his foot, but unfortunately he just missed it,’ said Pulisic. ‘It’s good that he was in the right spot.
‘We would have liked the win but they were tough to break down and then they got that first goal from a mistake, which can happen in football. We pushed and pushed to get one back but it just wasn’t our day.’
Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi were the starting wide forwards for Thomas Tuchel’s men three days ago, though with this clash against the Hornets marking the start of December’s hectic fixture schedule, there is no doubt opportunities will be up for grabs for every member of the squad in the coming weeks.
Pulisic knows that competition is fierce but he praised the humble and hard-working nature of his team-mates, insisting that collective spirit makes it easier to stay level-headed whether you’re in or out of the side.
‘That’s another thing that makes this team really special,’ he stated. ‘There’s really nobody with egos who, if they aren’t playing one week, they throw a fit and they’re upset.
‘There are so many games and everyone has an important place in this team. Of course, we always want to be on the field, that’s who we are as athletes and competitors. We always want to be the ones playing so we push and fight as hard as we can to put ourselves in that position.
‘But at the same time, if you’re not chosen that week, it’s then about being ready to come on in the game, training harder and getting ready for the next one. That’s really what it’s all about.’
Watford have undoubtedly improved in recent weeks under our former boss Claudio Ranieri, winning two of their past five matches to move three points clear of the danger zone with a game in hand, though Pulisic has fond memories after netting what was ultimately the winner on our last visit to Hertfordshire two years ago.
‘They clearly have talent and the ability to score goals,’ he added. ‘It’s not going to be an easy match, especially on their ground.
‘It will be a challenge but for me, I want to go into it confident, hopefully get the chance to help my team again and maybe I can get on the scoresheet there as well too.’
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