Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino admits "it's bad news" on Ben Chilwell's injury
Mauricio Pochettino spoke ahead of his side's meeting with Fulham (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea picked up "a really important victory" said Mauricio Pochettino in his pre-match press conference, after his side beat Brighton in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, picking up their first win of the month in the process.

The Blues had appeared to be on something of a downward spiral prior to the game, having lost to both Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, whilst also drawing at Bournemouth, but the victory gives them a much-needed confidence boost ahead of their return to Premier League action.

A west London derby awaits them on Monday night, as they travel the short distance to Craven Cottage to face Fulham, who sit three points above Chelsea, with Pochettino hoping to pick up his side's first away win of the season.

He challenged his side to build on the midweek result, but also pointed to the positives from the game beyond just the progression in the competition. 

"It was a really important victory," he said, "not only because it brings us to the next round but also to build our confidence. I think [it was] another very solid performance that we translated into victory that the players need, the team needs and the fans also need."

"I am happy, the effort was fantastic from the team and now this situation can make us stronger and be confident for Monday."

One of the few negatives from the game was the injury to vice-captain Ben Chilwell, who now joins the club captain Reece James on the sidelines, in a similar situation to that which occurred last year, with both full backs out of action.

Pochettino confirmed that the update regarding the England international's condition was not something that the club wanted to hear, saying, "It's bad news."

"What the doctor told me is not good. It looks [a] bad injury but we need to assess in the next few days and we’ll see the period that he is going to be absent from the squad and the team.

"But I think it doesn’t look good, the injury. The mechanism was bad, it was in the last minute of the game. We are really sad about the news about Ben.

"Time? It’s difficult to know now. It’s less than two days since it happened, and we need to assess in the next few days, and for sure the club will communicate."

When asked later on for more details on the specifics of the problem, he confirmed that it was the same leg that Chilwell had suffered an injury on the same leg as the one where picked up an issue last season.

"Yes, I think so [same leg]. He was fresh and only played 20 minutes against Aston Villa. It’s the mechanism of the action because he was pulled from his back in the moment that he was fouled.

"He was a little bit unlucky in the way that he suffered the injury. [We are] very disappointed, very sad because I think he was doing a very good game – we were talking a lot in the last few weeks in the area that he can improve.

"But I think very disappointed because the news is not good and now we are going to miss a player for several [periods of] time."

Striker situation

One player who Pochettino was particularly pleased with against Brighton was Nicolas Jackson,, who scored only his second Chelsea goal since joining the club from Villarreal in the summer.

Unfortunately, he cannot keep the momentum going, with the striker being suspended for the next game owing to picking up too many yellow cards in the early stages of the campaign. Pochettino said he had spoken to the 22-year-old about the issue, but was reluctant to put too much blame on him.

Chelsea celebrate Nicolas Jackson's goal against Brighton  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Chelsea celebrate Nicolas Jackson's goal against Brighton (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

"We were talking," he revealed, "because we talk a lot between the players and us the coaching staff. There’s things you cannot stop, because when you play after some time you are very anxious to score and do well and sometimes you forget things.

"That is why he needs experience and to be more mature. For sure he’s growing very fast and I think now, yes we are going to miss him for Monday, but I hope after the goal he scored against Brighton his confidence will be higher than before."

With the absence of the forward, Pochettino now has a dilemma ahead of the meeting with Fulham, as to whether he plays with a striker that has not had many minutes so far, such as Armando Broja, or instead opts for a formation without the need for a central number nine.

Whilst he would not give away his plans for the upcoming match, the 51-year-old admitted that there were multiple different strategies available to him, and that there was still time to assess the circumstances.

"We have a few options, play with a striker or without a striker," Pochettino admitted. "Also we need to assess all the squad after the game.

"Things appear after 48 hours and we need to see how they are and how they recover. But [we have] different options."

He continued later: "The most important is to adapt [with] the squad and the players that will be available, to try to find a way to perform, that is the most important.

"Maybe [there are] different characteristics we can use, and I said before we can play with one striker or maybe we can play without a striker. It’s still a few days and I need to see and assess all the squad to take the best decision."

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