Mauricio Pochettino insists he is “not crazy” for believing in Chelsea’s chances of success despite a growing injury crisis ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Sheffield United.
Chelsea have seen defenders Marc Cucurella and Reece James and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez all join Pochettino’s list of sidelined talent this week.
Pochettino revealed James, who was forced off in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Everton, is feeling “down” as a result of his latest hamstring problem after already sitting out a lengthy spell of the season with a similar issue, while Sanchez is likely to be absent for at least a few weeks after sustaining a knee problem.
The Blues boss, who looks set to hand goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic his first start and a potential debut to Christopher Nkunku for 12th-placed Chelsea, remained full of enthusiasm for his overall ambitions at Stamford Bridge, maintaining he still considers it an “amazing” opportunity.
Pochettino said: “I think it’s so exciting, this project. We knew that it was going to be difficult and yet it’s more difficult because of the circumstance. You always expect to have unexpected circumstances, but not a lot. We are suffering after five, six months.
“But that is a challenge and it can be a very good thing for us. We are never going to give up and we are going to fight. I think the situation will make us be smarter, cleverer, evolve the coaching staff.
“I think the challenge is massive, but I really believe that we can succeed. It’s only a matter of time, but sometimes it’s a lot to be patient and believe in the way that we are doing.
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“The thing, of course, that is the most difficult thing in football is to keep believing when you don’t get the results that you want. For me, [time] is not a problem. We will succeed. For sure, you will see.
“Maybe today you can say ‘this guy is crazy’, but I am not crazy. I know what I am doing.”
The prospect of summer signing Nkunku’s debut was a much-needed boost, but Pochettino warned that Chelsea nonetheless “need to be calm and quiet, not to put all the pressure on him”.
He also insisted the club “have the confidence” in Petrovic to step up in Sanchez’s absence despite the goalkeeper having played just six Premier League minutes.
Meanwhile, the Argentinian boss vowed the club would do all they can for their injury-plagued skipper, whose previous hamstring issue forced him out of action for nine matches to start the season.
Pochettino added: “We need to go in depth in the situation. He is a little bit down because he was very excited to come back and I think his coming back was perfect because it was step-by-step.
“It was a perfect way to build his confidence and be in full recovery. That [injury] for him is difficult to accept. He’s very disappointed, he’s frustrated. Now we need to be careful in the way that we are going to talk, but to also assess and try to find the best solution for him to be consistent.
“We are going to support him and to try to help and of course we are all thinking about trying to find the best solution to be with the group as soon as possible, make a full recovery and then try for that not to happen again.”
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