Graham Potter’s first pre-match press conference for the best part of six weeks included injury news on a multitude of Chelsea players recovering from or preparing to return from injury, including Reece James, Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kante.
The Blues are back in action on 27 December when we host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, having last played on 12 November up in Newcastle.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth Wesley Fofana injury update
The unusual mid-season pause to allow the World Cup to take centre stage did give some of our injured players extra time to continue their recovery, although during that period Armando Broja suffered an ACL injury and, Potter confirmed, Fofana went off with a knock during the midweek behind-closed-doors friendly against Brentford.
‘Wesley had a little setback, which can sometimes happen at the very last stage of rehab, so he will be [out for] a couple of weeks,’ Potter revealed.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth Reece James injury update
The head coach had better news regarding Reece James’ availability. The England international missed the World Cup after hurting his knee in the San Siro success in October.
‘Reece is back in, he’s been training with us. He completed 65 minutes in the week.
‘We’re still without Ruben, still without Ben Chilwell, obviously Kante,’ added Potter of other absentees.
‘Mendy has had a couple of days training with us.’
Chelsea vs Bournemouth Kante injury update
Potter expanded on Kante’s possible return date and explained why he is giving no thought to the midfielder’s contract situation, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.
‘He’ll be end of Feb, start of March. It’s a surgery so it’s a minimum period of four months.
‘My focus is to help him get back fit as soon as possible, and getting him back on the pitch in the right way, because we haven’t seen him.’
Chelsea vs Bournemouth Ziyech and Kovacic availability
Potter also said Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic, the two Chelsea players who went furthest in the World Cup, had not yet rejoined their group after their heroics in Qatar.
‘We’re still waiting on Hakim and Mateo. They went to the third/fourth place play-off and played the games, so a big demand for those two. It’s important to give them a little bit of time. They won’t be available for the game as a consequence.
‘Everybody else has been back and we’ve had a few days training with all of them. It’s a bit of a mix across the 12 [at the World Cup] in terms of when they got knocked out and how much game time they played. They’ve dripped back in according to their own circumstance, and I have to say they have come back in a really good way.’
Happy for Hakim
Perhaps of all the Chelsea players at the World Cup it was Ziyech’s performances that stood out, one of the outstanding players in an exciting Morocco side that knocked out Belgium, Spain and Portugal before giving eventual runners-up France a real scare in the semi-finals.
Potter was asked at his media conference today if he had changed his mind on Ziyech having not given him many starts since arriving at Chelsea in September.
‘He played against Man City, he came on against Newcastle,’ Potter pointed out, referring to our two most recent fixtures.
‘He was a little bit away from the first XI when we first came, but he’s been involved in the games. He came on in our first game.
‘We know his qualities. We like him as a player. He plays between the lines, has fantastic quality as we saw at the World Cup.
‘At Chelsea there are always good players who aren’t in the starting XI. You have to be patient. Delighted for him he got the game time, and helped his team. I kept in touch with him over the World Cup. He’s a good guy and he’s got quality.’
Chelsea vs Bournemouth injury list
As Potter confirmed, N'Golo Kante and Armando Broja are Chelsea's long-term absentees.
For Bournemouth, David Brooks and Neto miss out with thigh injuries. Several players are recovering from illness, while Lloyd Kelly is back in full training after a foot injury.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth suspension
There are no suspensions for this game.
In the Premier League, five yellow cards received before 19 league fixtures (Crystal Palace at home on 15 January) have been played will result in a one-match suspension in the competition.
Premier League booking list
Havertz 3, James 3, Jorginho 3, R Sterling 3, Azpilicueta 2, Cucurella 2, Koulibaly 2, Kovacic 2, Mount 2, Aubameyang 1, Chalobah 1, Chilwell 1, Gallagher 1, Loftus-Cheek 1, Mendy 1, Pulisic 1, Thiago Silva 1
Chelsea vs Bournemouth referee and VAR
Referee: Simon Hooper
VAR: David Coote
Simon Hooper is refereeing Chelsea for the third time this season. He was the official when we defeated Wolves at the Bridge back in October, and the more recent Carabao Cup loss at Man City.