Chelsea

Graham Potter has luxury of four Chelsea solutions to solve World Cup headache rivals will envy

Chelsea news: Graham Potter will need to lean heavily on the players not in Qatar when Chelsea return on the December 27th after the World Cup

Thursday afternoon saw confirmation of Gareth Southgate’s 26-man shortlist for the England squad travelling to Qatar this month.

As we approach the final round of club fixtures before the World Cup, Graham Potter’s eyes may already be turning to the December 27th, when Chelsea return to Premier League action at home to Bournemouth only 10 days after the World Cup final.

The Chelsea head coach confirmed reports before the League Cup tie with Manchester City that the first-team squad will be travelling to Abu Dhabi next month for warm weather training and a friendly in preparation for the restart.

“The World Cup final, when it is, is what it is,” Potter responded when asked about the quick turnaround.

“You’ve got a Premier League that came not so far after that. That’s not ideal, either. We all know that’s the situation we have to face. Okay, that game comes, then we can use that as preparation for the Premier League game. It depends on who plays in the World Cup final. Clearly, they won’t be able to play, but we’ve got others that can.”

The question Potter was answering was in reference to if Chelsea progressed in the Carabao Cup they would have to play a fourth-round tie only three days after the World Cup final. Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City ends that possibility, but the intensity of the schedule still remains.

Relying on players not heavily involved in the World Cup will be imperative in those early weeks back. Coaches with the privilege of deeper squads will have to lean on those fringe figures, some of whom might not be considered regular starters.

In normal circumstances, the period following an international tournament sees a scattered return for players based on how far they got in the tournament, with the summer break usually allowing players three weeks off. In this of all seasons, three weeks off after the World Cup would mean missing several fixtures.

The unique benefit for Potter is that major injuries preceding the break offers him some big players hopefully back fresh after Christmas, in addition to more senior figures whose nations did not qualify.

The obvious duo of Reece James and Wesley Fofana recovering will be huge for Potter’s selection choices in the second half of the season. Both suffered knee injuries in the space of a week in the AC Milan double-header, ending their hopes of travelling with their nations to Qatar. But both can be classed as first-teamers, especially James, whose absence is very hard to compensate for.

Jorginho is finally going to be given a much-needed rest after Italy failed to reach the World Cup back in March and is a likely candidate to feature in the Bournemouth game. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also gain a rest along with another striker in Armando Broja, given both Gabon and Albania failed to make it.

Trevoh Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been consistent members of Potter’s lineups so far and will get a chance to recover before the trip to Abu Dhabi after missing out on Southgate’s selection.

Potter also confirmed that some of the youngsters from the academy will join the first-team squad; a boost for talents like Lewis Hall who impressed against Manchester City and will be hoping he gain further opportunities heading into the new year.

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