Christopher Nkunku makes Chelsea training return as debut finally looms
The long wait is almost over for £52million summer signing, who could be involved against Newcastle this weekend after injury
Christopher Nkunku is closing in on his Chelsea debut after training with the squad at Cobham on Wednesday.
The £52million summer signing has missed the start of the campaign after suffering a knee injury in pre-season.
But Nkunku was pictured training on Wednesday and his impending return is a major boost for Chelsea as they bid to build on their upturn in form before the international break. The Blues face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Chelsea will manage Nkunku’s return carefully after his three-month injury lay-off, and it remains to be seen whether he will be in the squad for their trip to the north east.
Any involvement against Newcastle is likely to be as a substitute, but even the prospect of his impact off the bench would give Chelsea a lift.
Losing Nkunku on the eve of the season was a major blow to Mauricio Pochettino.
The 26-year-old France international impressed during pre-season, scoring three goals in five appearances playing up front, on the wing and as a No10.
He had surgery after suffering meniscus damage in his left knee in Chelsea’s final pre-season fixture on a dreadful pitch in Chicago at Soldier Field, which had hosted an Ed Sheeran concert a few days before.
Nkunku was hurt in a heavy collision with Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels and Chelsea’s attack struggled badly without him in the first few months of the season.
But Cole Palmer has helped spark the Blues frontline into life, easing the need to rush Nkunku back.
Chelsea will follow a similar plan that eased Reece James back after his hamstring injury. The Blues captain initially returned with two substitute appearances and has not completed 90 minutes in three starts since then.
James recently said he “hasn’t felt this good in a long time”. Chelsea’s £55m summer signing Romeo Lavia is also closing in on his debut.
The 19-year-old midfielder has also missed the start of the season after arriving short of fitness and then suffering an ankle injury.
Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana and Carney Chukwuemeka remain out, but Chelsea’s injury problems are easing.
Levi Colwill had to withdraw from the England squad due to a shoulder injury but is fit to face Newcastle, as is Malo Gusto after recovering from a knee issue.