Raheem Sterling is set to play in a Chelsea shirt for the first time when we travel to North Carolina for our second pre-season friendly of the summer.
The England international completed his signing from Manchester City last week prior to linking up with the Blues squad in Los Angeles and has been training with the group ever since.
His physical condition is now at the stage where he can be involved in match action on the American east coast and Thomas Tuchel is looking forward to seeing his new attacking man on the field. Sterling will wear number 17 during pre-season.
‘Raheem is absolutely ready to go,’ confirmed Tuchel. ‘He will be on the pitch against Charlotte and we are happy about that. He is excited to play his first match.’
The Blues head coach has yet to decide on the rest of those to be involved in our latest FC Series outing, a game streamed live on the Chelsea website and 5th Stand app which will see the focus shift to incorporate more tactical elements compared to Saturday’s victory over Club America in Las Vegas.
‘We had two intense training sessions on Monday and decided to do one more on Tuesday before we travel to Charlotte, then it’s all about the next step and the next step,’ Tuchel explained.
‘In pre-season, it’s always like this and the focus is on our team. We had an intense match against Club America and now we will focus on that match to improve when we are playing against Charlotte.
‘The meeting with the team will be analysing and then we will focus a bit more on tactical issues because all the focus was on physical input versus Club America.’
Sterling’s fellow new arrival Kalidou Koulibaly is slightly further behind in his preparations for the new campaign so this game could come too soon for the Senegalese defender, according to Tuchel.
‘We’re a bit torn so I have to speak to him about what we do,’ added Tuchel. ‘He did some training sessions now with us but he’s still in a very individual programme so no double sessions on the pitch.
‘He trains with the team but there are players who are in the third week of preparation and on a completely different level of physical foundation so it’s not a good match for him to straight away play.
‘I don’t want to rule it out completely but it’s very likely that he maybe will not play and we will not see him on the pitch.’
However, Tuchel is sure that once the 31-year-old’s debut does come, we will see a calm and composed leader at the back.
‘I’m happy because he’s a calm guy and we can see his quality on the pitch,’ added Tuchel. ‘He has a certain personality that you feel when he’s there and that is good for us.’