Chelsea captain Reece James will return to the starting lineup against Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup fourth round on Wednesday.
Chelsea will aim to reach the EFL Cup quarter-finals when they welcome Blackburn Rovers to Stamford Bridge in the fourth round on Wednesday night. And Mauricio Pochettino has greeted a positive update on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Reece James is finally fit and ready to start a game for the first time since the season-opening fixture in the Premier League. The Chelsea captain has overcome his injury horrors and will feature from the get-go on Wednesday. Pochettino confirmed the same during his pre-match press conference.
He said on James, “I can confirm he is going to start. The captain is ready. It’s good for the team, it’s good for him to start from the beginning. We can see after, checking always how he is performing.”
But Ben Chilwell (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Carney Chukwuemeka (knee), Romeo Lavia (ankle), Christopher Nkunku (knee), Mykhailo Mudryk (muscle injury), and Armando Broja (knee) on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Pochettino provided a fitness update on Chilwell.
He said, “The plan was to change the scenario for him. That happens in different clubs. When it’s a long period of recovery, sometimes we change the scenarios for them. Twelve hours here every day, it’s a fantastic training ground, but sometimes the player needs to change the atmosphere and the scenario to keep their recovery in a good way. It’s still difficult to know when he will be back.”
With Chilwell still unavailable and Thiago Silva needing some rest, Marc Cucurella will start as the left-back, with Levi Colwill featuring at the heart of the defence. The young Englishman will form the central defensive pairing alongside Axel Disasi, with James completing the numbers in the backline.
Djordje Petrovic should replace Robert Sanchez between the sticks, with Chelsea lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of him. The midfield unit should see a slight change, with Lesley Ugochukwu joining Moises Caicedo and Conor Gallagher in the middle of the park.
As for the offensive department, Noni Madueke and the under-fire Nicolas Jackson should retain their spots. But Raheem Sterling will drop out, with the versatile Ian Maatsen making a rare start. Sterling will accompany Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez on the bench on Wednesday.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Petrovic; James, Disasi, Colwill, Cucurella; Ugochukwu, Caicedo, Gallagher; Madueke, Jackson, Maatsen