Full Chelsea squad against Brighton revealed as Christopher Nkunku final decision made

Mauricio Pochettino enters another crucial week as Chelsea manager with plenty on the line. The Blues are already struggling in mid-table and could end the weekend as low as 14th if things go against them whilst more importantly the gap to the top four continues to grow.

Brighton, who they face on Sunday, are already six points ahead with West Ham in ninth four clear as well. With Manchester United to follow in mid-week this is shaping up to be a defining early period for the boss.

He will have to overcome the Seagulls, fresh from their latest successful European adventure, without more than half of his first choice backline too. Reece James is suspended for the game after being booked twice in the loss at Newcastle whilst Marc Cucurella is out.

The Spanish left-back has been filling in for Ben Chilwell and Levi Colwill on the left as well as James and Malo Gusto at right-back too on occasion. He picked up a fifth yellow card of the season despite being a rotation option and is banned for the game.

Gusto himself is likely to be out with injury. “Not too many news,” Pochettino said on Friday when asked about his squad. “We don’t believe that we can recover some players as quickly as possible. But there is still one training [session] more tomorrow, so if we can see if some players are available more.”

Gusto will be one of those fighting for his place but the 20-year-old was added to the list of injuries released on Friday and is a serious doubt. Given the lack of senior options available, Trevoh Chalobah and Wesley Fofana are still injured, it leaves the academy with a chance to fill the bench.

In midfield and it is likely to be the same old story, though Moises Caicedo may well get himself a start after not being deemed fit to go from the off last week. Romeo Lavia is a doubt and isn’t expected to make the squad, Christopher Nkunku, however, could be in line.

“We need to assess tomorrow and then decide,” Pochettino said of the pair.. “They are close, but we need tomorrow to take the decision.” He went on to add: “Maybe Lavia is the more difficult [one] to play. But we need to assess Nkunku.”

The 26-year-old may well be in with a shout of a first competitive appearance which would be a massive boost for himself and the team. Nkunku has spent the past four months out with a knee injury but is now on the verge of a debut.

With Nkunku in there is a question over the balance of the 20-man squad. If he returns then someone has to miss out and the midfield options could be left light. Carney Chukwuemeka is still injured and even with Lesley Ugochukwu from the bench it could be lopsided.

In attack there would be four players, at least one for each slot and then a roaming Nkunku figure that can play anywhere. The rest of the squad is searching for depth though with Alex Matos the next most likely player to feature. Deivid Washington is now firmly with the Under-21s it seems.

Pochettino has been prone to naming two goalkeepers on the bench this season as well but if Nkunku is back then that is all but out the window too. Here, football.london looks at how the squad could take shape.

Goalkeepers: Rob Sanchez, Djordje Petrovic

Defenders: Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill, Ian Maatsen, Alfie Gilchrist, Josh Brooking

Midfielders: Conor Gallagher, Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Lesley Ugochukwu

Attackers: Cole Palmer, Nicolas Jackson, Raheem Sterling, Mykhailo Mudryk, Christopher Nkunku, Noni Madueke, Armando Broja

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