Mauricio Pochettino is confident Chelsea have devised ‘a very good strategy’ to improve Reece James’s chances of avoiding injury.

Captain James is closing in on a return from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since Chelsea’s season opener against Liverpool and in with a chance of making the squad for Saturday’s derby against Arsenal.

James has been hit by a number of different issues in recent seasons, missing 90 games due to injury or illness since breaking into the Chelsea squad permanently in 2019/20.

Pochettino said: ‘We go too deep on this analysis but what we are trying to do is to avoid what you say [surgery].

‘We also have a very good strategy to put him at his best and keep him fit. It is impossible forever [to never be injured again]. Of course, always [I’m confident it will work].’

Hamstring issues have been recurring for James but, on his latest, Pochettino said: ‘It is much better, much better, he is progressing well but still not at his best 100 percent. I think maybe he can help the team at some point – he is close to being there.’

Fitness-permitting, James is available for selection again after serving a one-match ban for using ‘improper, abusive and insulting’ words and behaviour in a confrontation with a match official after Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.

James was out injured at the time and Pochettino said: ‘No [it was not a good moment], but it’s part of the business.

‘He was upset about the situation, and then you need to understand that he is so committed to this project from the beginning. He feels really bad because he cannot help the team.

‘He made a mistake. He’s young. We can make mistakes, we are the first to say that. He was really sorry about it.

‘I think he’s not going to repeat the situation. Because of a few situations [in the game], they made him feel so bad.

‘Myself … against Burnley I got a yellow card. You can say ‘you have experience, you are 50 years old, sorry 51!’ And sometimes we make mistakes. [This is] A young guy that wants to play football and is frustrated because he cannot help the team. He was frustrated in this moment and he made a mistake. That’s it. Finish.’

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