Pochettino confirms 4 Chelsea stars fitness ahead of Newcastle clash

Mauricio Pochettino has already admitted that Reece James will be in the starting XI for Chelsea as they face Newcastle on Saturday. The club captain has played in five matches in a row now domestically having missed almost all of the opening three months to the season.

After substitute appearances against both Arsenal and Brentford James was picked to start against Blackburn in the Carabao Cup in early November before ramping up his recovery. The 23-year-old then started both matches against Tottenham and Manchester City but was removed before the game’s conclusion in order to be safely managed.

Now, with another two weeks rest under his belt and the final straight in a tough run of matches for Chelsea, James is getting close to completing a full 90. “We’ll see,” Pochettino said on Friday. We’ll see tomorrow. He’s doing well, he’s at a very good level.

“He’s improving everyday, we’re so happy with him. Hope he can cope with the demands of 90 minutes and we’ll see tomorrow. Now you know one player that is going to play.”

James hasn’t been as severely missed as he might have been this season due to the arrival of Malo Gusto. The 20-year-old has made an impressive start to live in England having moved from Lyon but James offers a balance and physical aspect able to run a game that very few can.

It is notable just how important he has been when on the field but also not unexpected such is his record in the past few years. Chelsea with James have been much stronger than any side without him since 2021 and Pochettino is now preparing to get the most out of one of his most important players on a regular basis.

There had been an injury concern for Gusto during the break as well after he pulled out of Thierry Henry’s France Under-21 side with a knock. This again adds to the pressure on James being fit, especially as this isn’t the first time Gusto has had a knock.

Pochettino also revealed that everyone available before the break was ready to play here though, indicating that his second-choice right-back hadn’t been dealt too much damage. “They already know the starting XI for tomorrow but I’m not going to make public,” he told reporters. “I think all arrive in a normal condition. Already picked the starting XI. I will give to you tomorrow.”

Pochettino has tended to go unchanged where possible and has the chance to do so for the trip to Tyneside but there could be a swap at the back. Marc Cucurella came into the team that beat Tottenham in place of Levi Colwill due to the England defender having a shoulder issue.

Colwill is available for the match after his manager confirmed he had a chance to play and could return in at left-back, as he has been playing for most of the season. Outside of that and it is likely that the team will be much the same, though there is doubt over Moises Caicedo after he was a late arrival from duty with Ecuador.

Today was the last one [player to return], Moises Caicedo,” the manager said. “Now we need to assess.” If Caicedo does drop out then it could open up a chance for Lesley Ugochukwu to start at St James’ Park. Romeo Lavia is still out.

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