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Graham Potter must take this unpopular Chelsea decision vs Southampton to protect impressive star

Graham Potter must take this unpopular Chelsea decision vs Southampton to protect impressive star.

Chilwell didn’t disappoint. His passing was reliable and often progressive inside his own half. His surges forward into Dortmund territory were well-timed. And he fashioned three goalscoring opportunities for his teammates that were ultimately not taken, which was the overarching theme of the evening.

That the England international managed to play 71 minutes was unexpected, especially given he spent his final minutes on the pitch limping. “About five minutes before he came off, he had a run down the side and had a kick on his ankle,” Potter told after the 1-0 defeat in Germany.

“I haven’t checked it over but I think it’s more a kick than anything else and probably a little bit of fatigue. That was his first start for some time so the idea before the game was to take him off at 60/70 minutes max. So that was the plan.”

There will be many within the Chelsea fanbase eager to see Chilwell, signed from Leicester City for £50million in 2020, continue at left-back tomorrow when Southampton travel to Stamford Bridge. Yet that would be an unnecessary risk – and one Potter is unlikely to take given the left-back’s fitness issues over the past year.

Chilwell has to be carefully managed; he can’t afford any further injury absences this season. And starting him twice within 72 hours would be unwise on the part of Chelsea. Who could come in? Cucurella is the obvious – if not particularly popular – option.

The Spaniard has drawn the ire of supporters in recent weeks. He was jeered off the pitch by a minority against West Ham and booed onto it by a few dissenting voices in Dortmund. It is hardly the ideal environment for a player to regain confidence and rediscover their best form.

Cucurella needs a strong display to change his personal narrative – and also ensure Chilwell isn’t overworked in the weeks ahead. The visit of bottom-of-the-table Southampton, who are without a head coach, may prove the perfect opportunity. It’s one Potter should take.

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