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Chelsea may be forced to buy a striker to cover injured Christopher Nkunku

Christopher Nkunku

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that Christopher Nkunku’s latest injury could prompt Chelsea to move for a new striker this month as he urged the club to be “clinical” in their decision-making in the coming days.

Pochettino admitted on Friday that he is worried by the nature of Nkunku’s hip problem, which was initially thought to be minor but has now prevented the 26-year-old from even training for almost two weeks.

Chelsea’s need for another striker is well-publicised and Nkunku’s absence, which comes after he missed the first four months of the campaign due to a serious knee injury, will put more pressure on the club to recruit another forward player in the January window.

Nkunku’s unavailability has been a major issue for Chelsea, who planned to build their attack around the France international following his £52 million summer move from RB Leipzig. He has started just one match this season, against Crystal Palace on December 27.

“I am a little bit worried about the situation of Nkunku, because it has now been 10 days in which he cannot train,” said Pochettino. “We are assessing him. We don’t know what is going to happen. We are a little bit worried.

“He suffered a small issue and then it was more complicated. Now it is between eight and 10 days that he has not trained.

“Of course because it was six months we were waiting for him and he was so close to feeling comfortable and he started against Crystal Palace. Of course we are disappointed and we want him to be involved again.”

Mauricio Pochettino gives instructions to Christopher Nkunku before he comes on as a substitute
Mauricio Pochettino had planned to build his attack around Nkunku - Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Asked if Nkunku’s current injury could affect the club’s transfer activity this month, Pochettino said: “It is true that now, in the next few days, we are going to see the situation. That is why I told you that I am a little bit worried.

“I still don’t have all the information about whether he is going to be available or not for a small initial period. We need to be very clinical to take some decisions, to think and see how we fix the problem.”

Pochettino said Nkunku’s injury issues have placed extra pressure on the likes of Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja this season.

“Jackson is 22, Broja is 22 and they are young guys who need to adapt,” said Pochettino. “That’s why we feel a bit more the hit of [losing] Nkunku because we were sure he was consistent in scoring goals.

“A blow like this, yes, you guess or hope that players who came here to help and grow, but it became compulsory for Jackson to score with every touch and do well. Broja, with one year out, needs to now play three games in a row and that’s difficult for him. All of these situations make our job a little more difficult.”

Chilwell and Badiashile return

In better news for Chelsea, Ben Chilwell and Benoit Badiashile are both expected to be in the squad for Saturday’s match against Fulham. Injured trio Carney Chukwuemeka, Trevoh Chalobah and Robert Sanchez are also nearing returns to first-team action.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has said Chelsea chose against travelling abroad for a mid-season training camp in part because of the financial and logistical difficulties presented by such trips. Chelsea will instead give their players a few days off.

“If we all move to Spain or different countries it is a very difficult thing and it is too much money,” said Pochettino. “We need to spend money on travel and everything.

“To be honest, should we think it is important for the squad to go somewhere for two or three days to try to create something or to provide something, of course the owner is more than happy to provide the budget to go.

“But to be honest, to move, to go, the logistics, to create a big mess to go for a few days to go somewhere where we may not know if the facilities are good, [just] to say we have been there and create a little bit of smoke by doing something… We don’t know if we will get the benefit.”

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