BREAKING: Chelsea's champions league squad has been replaced by new signings

Chelsea still has a number of injury concerns as the Premier League returns, and Graham Potter may have to make some difficult decisions when the Blues face Bournemouth after Christmas.

Graham Potter will be putting together his starting XI for Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in just over a week. The Blues still have a behind-closed-doors friendly against Brentford to come, but Mason Mount, Thiago Silva, Conor Gallagher, and Raheem Sterling returned to training over the weekend as the Blues squad begins to take shape.

The Blues are still waiting for Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic to return to Cobham, but the duo will have some time off after playing in the World Cup third-place play-off on Saturday. Their availability and readiness to complete 90 minutes will be called into question, with only a day or two to introduce themselves into Potter’s plans.

The absence of Kovacic, combined with the injury to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, leaves Potter in a bind in midfield. Throughout the first half of the season, Chelsea’s midfield two has been a rotation of Jorginho, Kovacic, and Loftus-Cheek.

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The Italian maestro has been involved in Potter’s preparation for several weeks and appears to be all but certain to begin. The veteran will need a partner, and that may provide Denis Zakaria with his first Premier League start.

The Swiss international impressed on his full debut against Dinamo Zagreb to set out his stall for the first time but has since had a limited role in the World Cup and only joined up with the squad following the Abu Dhabi camp. Zakaria has even admitted that he needs to improve, but his chance may come soon.

The 26-year-old explained:

“I’m still optimistic about everything, and we’ll see what happens. I still need to work on some things and show the coach what I’m capable of. When I get to play, I have to show that I am good. So far, it hasn’t been enough, but I’m working hard to get my chance in this big club.”

Potter deployed a midfield three against Aston Villa, with Jorginho flanked by Charlie Webster and Lewis Hall. The latter has seen his first-team involvement increase, but his two starts have come as a left wing-back thus far. He does however prefer to play in midfield.

I prefer playing as a number eight because I can go box to box, but for the last couple of years I’ve been playing on the left, whether as a wing-back or full-back,” the 18-year-old recently stated.

“I just have to do my best wherever I’m asked to play. Obviously, I have preferences, but realistically, the transition from academy to senior football is a big one, so getting any minutes wherever I play on the field is a blessing.”

Chelsea may switch to 433 for the start of the season, so both could play, but if deemed fit enough, Mount will be considered for a more aggressive role in connecting midfield and attack.

As the fixtures begin to pile up, at least one of Hall and Zakaria will have an opportunity to make their mark.

Source: Football.London

By michel

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