Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that injured star Christopher Nkunku is eyeing a return from his knee injury after the November international break.
The summer signing needed surgery after hitting the turf in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund and was initially expected to miss the rest of the calendar year, but numerous positive updates have made it clear his debut is likely coming sooner rather than later.
90min revealed on Thursday that Chelsea are hoping to start Nkunku in the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Newcastle United on December 20, with a return to competitive action expected after the upcoming break.
Chelsea will first face Newcastle in the Premier League on November 25, and Pochettino has now confirmed Nkunku is aiming to make his return against the Magpies.
“We had some conversation and he said to me, ‘Coach, I want to be ready for after international break, Newcastle’,” Pochettino recalled in Friday’s press conference. “I asked him yesterday and he said ‘Hmmm’, and I said ‘You are a liar’. ‘No, no I am ready’.
“It is close and he is doing really well. We are so happy with him, the way he is recovering, he is very professional.”
The good news kept on coming for Chelsea fans as Pochettino revealed another summer signing, £58m midfielder Romeo Lavia, is back working outside ahead of an imminent return to team training.
“Romeo Lavia is also close,” Pochettino said after his update on Nkunku. “They trained today on the pitch.
“Hope that next week [Lavia and Nkunku] will be involved with the team and we’ll see after. Day by day, see when it is possible to play with the team.”
90min understands Lavia, who has battled two injuries since his summer switch from Southampton, is likely to start picking up minutes in December.