Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has received positive news ahead of their clash against Manchester United.
Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has received a double fitness boost ahead of their crunch clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Conor Gallagher and Thiago Silva are set to return to the team after the former was brought off early on against Brentford in midweek, while veteran defender Silva was rested due to a risk of fatigue.
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The Blues boss is still unbeaten after seven games in charge having succeeded Thomas Tuchel in the job in September. But the 47-year-old faces his toughest test yet against high-flying United, who look revitalised under Erik ten Hag after their 2-0 success over Tottenham.
Gallagher was withdrawn after just 14 minutes in the goalless draw with Brentford after suffering from sickness but it appears the 22-year-old may be ready to return to action after training on Friday.
“We are still in the process of recovery. Pretty much as we were with Brentford. Conor (Gallagher) trained today so we will see how he is over the 24 hours,” he said.
However, Potter is likely to rely upon his more experienced midfield pairing of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic given Gallagher’s lack of match fitness.
Silva is set to hand Potter a huge boost by returning to action after the 38-year-old was an unused substitute in midweek. Potter said it was merely a matter of needing to manage his game time and he is likely to start the match.
“No problems injury wise, it’s just the recovery,” Potter said. “24, 48 hours, we need to make sure the recovery is right for him. I have to involve him in the conversations because he’s 38 years old. He’s a man, he knows himself better than I do.”
Silva is likely to start in the back three alongside Trevoh Chalobah and Kalidou Koulibaly, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ben Chilwell as his choice of wing-backs. Up front, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling will be recalled after starting on the bench against Brentford, with Armando Broja and Cesar Azpilicueta dropping out.
In terms of long-term absentees, N’Golo Kante is set to undergo surgery on his recurring hamstring problem and will be sidelined for four months, while Reece James is ruled out of action for eight weeks after seeing a specialist about his knee injury.
“He’s in a brace for four weeks to stabilise the knee, then it’s rehab,” Potter said of James. “That will take around eight weeks. That’s the latest.”
Potential Chelsea XI vs Man United (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga; Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly; Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Aubameyang, Sterling.