Chelsea‘s season had been gathering momentum before it was interrupted by the international break.
With Frank Lampard‘s side having scored 14 goals in their last four matches and conceded just one, he will not have welcomed his squad being disturbed.
Fortunately, the impact of the recent Nations League fixtures has been minimal on his squad, but fatigue is a concern with a number of players doubtful for Saturday lunchtime’s trip to Newcastle.
Kai Havertz has recovered after testing positive for coronavirus, but the forward has only just returned to individual training and is not expected to play at St James’ Park.
Pulisic return still ‘problematic’
Christian Pulisic has also been training on grass but Lampard described his injury as “problematic”.
“He had a history before coming to us of some muscular injuries,” he told a press conference.
“Everything about how he prepares is perfect so we need to find the right balance between playing, resting and maintenance during the week to get the best out of him. He’s a young player still, it’s not abnormal and we will find a solution.”
Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount both earned praise from the manager over their displays for England. The left-back was left on the bench for the duration of the 4-0 win over Iceland on Wednesday so it’s hoped he will be fresh.
On Mount, who has played three games in six days for the Three Lions, Lampard added:
“He was the only player in the England squad of all the players that are involved in Europe that played all three games but I understand Gareth’s position. The good thing about Mason is he has a great attitude, he’s a fit young man and I hope he comes through fresh because at the minute he’s in great form.”
There is some uncertainty over whether Thiago Silva will be available following another gruelling international schedule.
The defender was in Uruguay on Tuesday night for Brazil’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win, but could still feature.
How Chelsea could line up
Those considerations mean Lampard could stick with largely the same side that beat Sheffield United 4-1 last time out in the Premier League.
Jorginho could start in place of Mateo Kovačić despite the Croatian scoring twice in his nation’s 3-2 defeat to Portugal.
Mendy: James, Rudiger, Zouma, Chilwell: Kante, Mount, Kovacic: Ziyech, Werner, Abraham