Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Ben Chilwell and Carney Chukwuemeka are both nearing a return from injury and discussed his options up front during Nicolas Jackson's absence at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chelsea kick off our FA Cup campaign when we host Preston North End at Stamford Bridge in the third round tomorrow and ahead of that game Mauricio Pochettino spoke about his team selection options.

That included mixed news on the injury front, ruling four players out from featuring in Saturday's match, although he revealed that Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka and Benoit Badiashile could all be back in action next week.

'Chilly and Carney are not available for tomorrow,' he said. 'We’ll see for the next game, the semi-final in Middlesbrough, and then Fulham. They are doing well, training with the group in the last few days and we are so happy with their progress.

'Romeo Lavia is recovering after his injury. We still don’t know when he’s going to be available again because of the problem in his quad during the game against Palace.

'Benoit I think is going to be available for next week.'

Another player who will definitely not be involved against Preston is Nicolas Jackson, who has joined up with the Senegal squad for their upcoming Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

However, our head coach believes that could provide good opportunities for fellow strikers Armando Broja and Christopher Nkunku over the next month, as they both look to regain their full fitness and form following lengthy injuries.

'It is a possibility for Armando to play,' added Pochettino. 'Christoph is not going to start because he suffered an issue during the week. He’s going to be in the squad but he’s not going to start. We need to be careful with him because he is starting to compete after six months out.

'Armando is going to have the possibility to be maybe more involved because he is one of our main strikers and it is a good opportunity for him to perform and be relaxed. We really trust in him, he has amazing potential and quality. Now he needs to forget his injury for the last year and start to behave normally.'

Mauricio added that he is likely to use this game as an opportunity to give other players the chance to impress too, although he was quick to point out that is more about squad management rather than any verdict on the importance of the FA Cup or the strength of our Championship opposition.

'It is a good opportunity because different competitions allow us to maybe use some different players in the team and see how they behave and how they perform.

'The FA Cup is an important competition for us, tomorrow is really important, like the Carabao Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough is going to be, and then the Premier League game against Fulham.

'It’s so important in the way that we are building this team and the possibility to provide the team and players a good experience competing at a high level at Stamford Bridge. It’s an important game for us.

'There will not be too many changes. We are playing with the circumstances but the team’s not going to change too much. You will see maybe one or two players who are maybe not normally in the starting 11, but because of the circumstances we need to prevent and anticipate problems.

'We take it like a Premier League game. We have full respect for Preston and tomorrow you will see we are going to put in place a starting 11 we hope is guaranteed to perform.'

In fact, Pochettino was keen to point the added importance placed on the cup competitions for Chelsea this season, given the opportunity they provide to qualify for European football.

'The Carabao Cup and the FA Cup are two competitions that we need to try to go far in. But before that we need to build a run step by step and the first step is tomorrow.

'Of course it’s a really important competition for us because we are not involved in European competition and in the Premier League we are in a position where we need to grow and improve a lot if we want to play in Europe next season. But through the FA Cup or the Carabao Cup we can achieve that.

'We are still in all three competitions we started the season in and we want to be in all three until the end. We are winners, we want to win. We need to work more and more, it’s never enough. It’s really important to go through and be in the next round of the competition, but first we need to compete well and be better and deserve to go through.'