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Mauricio Pochettino surprised Ben Chilwell started England games after injury

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Mar 2024

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Mauricio Pochettino admitted he was surprised Ben Chilwell started two games for England during the international break, having only recently returned from a knee injury.

The defender last started for Chelsea on March 2 against Brentford and since then has played just a few minutes for the club, as a late substitute in the FA Cup against Leicester.

Yet he played the entirety of England’s 2-2 draw with Belgium on Tuesday, three days after completing 67 minutes against Brazil.

The Argentinian is no closer to seeing the end of his team’s injury crisis with nine players currently ruled out of Saturday’s meeting with Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

More squad members will be assessed after returning from international duty, including Chilwell, who took a knock to his knee against Belgium.

“He didn’t play after Brentford, then he played only a few minutes against Leicester,” said Pochettino. “(Then) he started two games (for England).

“It’s a surprise for us. It’s bad luck because he got a dead leg in the last moment against Belgium. Now we need to assess if he can be available.”

Enzo Fernandez was set to return to the club’s Cobham training base on Thursday afternoon after playing twice for Argentina in the United States during the break, and is another player whose fitness will be checked on.

Three names unlikely to feature on Saturday however are Robert Sanchez, Trevoh Chalobah and Carney Chukwuemeka, the latter after returning injured from duty with England Under-21s.

The club confirmed this week that Romeo Lavia would be out for the rest of the season.

The summer signing from Southampton has played just 32 minutes for the first team since arriving in west London for £58million and has suffered a series of setbacks.

“It’s a difficult situation for him,” said Pochettino. “He’s sad. He only played 30 minutes, for a new player at the club.

“When we signed him, he arrived with problems. He couldn’t train with us for the first months. Then when he was ready he suffered a problem in his feet.

“He recovered, he played 30 minutes then got injured in December. Then he didn’t have the possibility to train. It’s really sad news.”

However, top scorer Cole Palmer is likely to be available to face Burnley, having not featured in either of England’s games during the last week.

The 21-year-old was injured for the Brazil game and was an unused substitute against Belgium.

“I talked with him,” said Pochettino. “He’s a little bit disappointed because he couldn’t play with the national team.

“The first game he had a small problem. He thought maybe he’d play the second game.

“Now he’s OK, is training well. The plan is he will be available for Saturday.”

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