Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Ben Chilwell will miss Monday's trip to Fulham, and likely several matches afterwards, due to the injury he suffered against Brighton in midweek, as well as discussing his options to replace the suspended Nicolas Jackson.
Ben Chilwell limped off with a hamstring injury late on in our 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday evening, and Mauricio Pochettino admitted the early signs are not good for the England international, although it is still too soon to know exactly how long he will be out of action.
'I think it’s bad news,' said Pochettino. 'From what the doctor told me it’s not a good thing, it looks like a bad injury, but we need to assess in the next few days and we’ll see the period that he’s going to be absent from the squad and the team. But it doesn’t look good.
'The mechanism was bad, it was in the last minute of the game. We are really sad about the news about Ben. It’s difficult to know the timing now, it’s only less than two days since it happened. We need to assess in the next few days and the doctor will tell us and for sure the club will communicate.
'I think it is the same leg as he injured last season. He was fresh and only played 20 minutes against Aston Villa. It’s the mechanism of the action because he was pulled from his back in the moment that he dragged the ball. I think he was fouled but then he was a little bit unlucky in the way that he suffered the injury because he was affected for a different reason.
'We are very disappointed, very sad, because he was having a very good game. We were talking a lot during the last few weeks in the areas to improve. We are very disappointed because the news is not good and now we are going to miss another player for a certain amount of time.'
There was better news elsewhere from the treatment room at Cobham, though, as our head coach is hopeful that he will be able to call upon Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke again at Craven Cottage following their own absences.
'We hope maybe Carney will be back, and of course Noni also after his injury when he came back from the national team. He is getting ready, he is working hard. We hope that these two players maybe will be available for selection on Monday.'
However, it remains at full-back where Pochettino's mind is focused when it comes to injuries, with captain Reece James still working towards a return and now joined on the sidelines by Chilwell, at least for time being, while Malo Gusto has two more games to serve on his suspension.
'I don’t believe Reece will be available, not for Monday. Maybe a week after, we’ll see. Also we need to assess him, but I cannot confirm at the moment,' added Pochettino.
'In any club, always you miss important players when they cannot play. Of course we will miss them, always we miss top players and Reece and Chilly are top players. When they are at their best they are the best full-backs in the world.
'Any team missing important players, it will affect their performance. There is only one Reece James and one Ben Chilwell. We have Malo, Marc [Cucurella] and Levi [Colwill] who can come in and play really well, but they have a different profile. That is football. It is difficult to replace top players.'
Another area of the team where Pochettino will be forced to make changes for the short trip across SW6 to take on Fulham on Monday is in attack, as Nicolas Jackson will be unavailable while he serves his one-game ban after picking up five bookings in the Premier League.
At this point, our head coach is still keeping his options open, with several possible solutions available during the Senegalese striker's absence.
'We have a few options, to play with a striker or without a striker,' he added. 'Also we need to assess all the squad after the game, things appear after 48 hours. We need to see how they are and how they recover from the effort of Wednesday. But different options can meet.
'The most important thing is to adapt to the squad and players that are available, and to try to find a way to perform. That is the most important thing. Maybe there are different characteristics we can use.
'We can play with one striker or maybe we can play without a striker, with another second-line player or an offensive midfielder. But there are still a few days and I need to think and assess all the squad to take the best decision.'
He did confirm one name which is in his mind as a possible replacement, though, with Cole Palmer impressing his manager when making his full Chelsea debut against Brighton in midweek.
'Yes, maybe, I am so happy with his performance,' Pochettino responded when Palmer's name was suggested as a potential alternative. 'After only a few weeks with us he was capable to perform very well, fit very well in the team. He’s a young, talented player. For sure he’s in my mind as one possibility to start on Monday.'