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Pochettino rides on absence of European football, says it’s good for injury- stricken Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino (51) mentioned on Friday that the absence of European football will provide Chelsea some relief as they grapple with an extensive injury list.

However, the Argentine manager expressed confidence that the Premier League club would make a return to continental competition in the following season.

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Chelsea, who won the Champions League in 2021, faced a tumultuous campaign last season and finished 12th in the league, which means they won’t participate in European competitions in the current season, with the group stages set to begin next week.

The London club has been dealing with several injury concerns early in the new season, with key players like full-back and captain Reece James, new striker Christopher Nkunku, and central defenders Wesley Fofana and Benoit Badiashile among those sidelined.

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“With the circumstances, I think it’s better for us (to not be playing European football) because we have 11 or 12 injured players,” Pochettino told reporters ahead of Sunday’s trip to Bournemouth.

“I think it’s important now that we can recover and be more competitive.

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“But for Chelsea, it’s important to be involved in European competition, but that is not in my hands now.

“That is the reality. For sure, we are going to be involved in European competition next season, no doubt with the quality we have.”

Despite Chelsea’s current 12th-place position in the Premier League standings, where they have garnered only four points from four games, Mauricio Pochettino emphasised that his team has performed admirably.

This comes in the wake of their losses to West Ham United and Nottingham Forest, as he mentioned.

“If you see the data, I think we are very good. The thing we are missing is to score goals, which is one of the most important things in football,” he added.

“We need to compete better. It’s the process of building the team. For sure, it’s only a matter of time.

“I want to win. We need to win. It’s too early to give up or say we are not going to achieve what we were talking about at the beginning.”

Earlier on Friday, Chelsea said midfielder Romeo Lavia, who was signed from Championship (second-tier) side Southampton for a reported fee of 55 million pounds last month, is “continuing to be assessed for an injury”.

“I think we are really disappointed because he was training really well. He twisted his ankle and now we are waiting for Monday to get the assessment from the doctor,” Pochettino said.

“We don’t know (the timeframe for Lavia’s return) because we need to assess him.”

Pochettino added that striker Armando Broja, who suffered a knee injury in December, will also be unavailable to face Bournemouth as he continues his return to fitness after surgery.

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