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Chelsea injury update: Cole Palmer, Malo Gusto, Christopher Nkunku latest news and return dates

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Chelsea have received mixed news on the injury front during the current international break.The inconsistent Blues can ill afford many further absences ahead of a season run-in in which they have preciously little margin for error if they are to realise their hopes of qualifying for any European competition for next term.Mauricio Pochettino’s side host relegation-threatened Burnley at Stamford Bridge as the Premier League returns on Saturday, followed by meetings with Manchester United, Sheffield United and Everton ahead of their huge FA Cup semi-final showdown with Manchester City back at Wembley next month.Injuries have been a constant source of frustration to Blues boss Pochettino during his first campaign at the helm and he still has a number of key issues lingering ahead of the weekend.Here is all the latest Chelsea injury news and return dates. It is worth noting that Enzo Fernandez is not currently injured, but may be on the bench against Burnley due to his international exploits with Argentina.Cole PalmerAfter he delivered yet another excellent display in the dramatic FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester in the final match prior to the international break, Chelsea fans will have been concerned to see the influential Palmer miss England’s friendly defeat by Brazil at Wembley.However, Pochettino will have breathed a sigh of relief as the former Manchester City forward returned to training in the build-up to Tuesday’s clash with Belgium.Palmer seems to have shaken off his minor knock and, provided he comes through the Belgium game unscathed, will surely be fit to face Burnley on Saturday.Potential return date: Saturday March 30, vs Burnley Malo GustoAnother international break scare for Chelsea came when Gusto withdrew from France’s Under-21 squad last week.The in-form right-back was suffering from a virus, though it is understood that he has recovered quickly and is expected to be ready to face Burnley in a key boost for Pochettino.Potential return date: Saturday March 30, vs Burnley (Getty Images)Carney ChukwuemekaChukwuemeka proved his worth to Pochettino by coming off the bench to net a crucial late goal against Leicester.However, he has had a very stop-start campaign with injuries and has now withdrawn from England Under-21 duty ahead of their European Championship qualifier against Luxembourg on Tuesday, having not featured in the thumping win in Azerbaijan on Friday.Chelsea said that Chukwuemeka had “returned early to work on his fitness at Cobham, as he looks to play a key role in the remainder of the season”, so it doesn’t sound like he is suffering from any issue that will keep him out for long.Potential return date: Saturday March 30, vs Burnley Levi ColwillColwill has not played since the 2-2 west London derby draw at Brentford at the beginning of the month after suffering a toe injury.Updates have been few and far between since then, with the versatile defender not in contention for England selection.Colwill has been undertaking his rehabilitation programme and it remains to be seen if he will be ready to play any part against Burnley at the weekend.Potential return date: UnknownReece JamesChelsea have been without their injury-plagued captain since early December after he underwent hamstring surgery.As yet there has been no official timeframe placed on James’ potential return to action and it is currently unknown when he will be fit enough to play again.However, England boss Gareth Southgate recently expressed hope that the right-back would be able to get a few games under his belt before the European Championship in the summer.Potential return date: UnknownChristopher NkunkuNkunku has dealt with a succession of injury problems since arriving in west London, having made only 10 appearances for Chelsea to date.He managed a run of games in February having being sidelined for a further month after waiting some six months initially for his competitive debut, but suffered a hamstring problem in the Carabao Cup final defeat by Liverpool at Wembley.Pochettino said then that he expected Nkunku to miss “a few weeks”, so will be desperate to have him back sooner rather than later after the international break.Potential return date: UnknownRomeo LaviaLike Nkunku, Lavia has been beset by injury woe since joining Chelsea in a high-profile summer transfer, with ankle and thigh problems limiting him to just one substitute’s cameo for the club so far.Pochettino has not given a public update on the Belgian midfielder’s status since February, so it’s difficult to know exactly where he’s at in terms of a recovery.Potential return date: Unknown(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)Lesley UgochukwuUgochukwu has missed three months of action now with the recurrence of a hamstring injury sustained in the defeat by Wolves at Molineux on Christmas Eve.In January it was reported that the midfielder could be out for up to six weeks, but there’s still been no sign of a return.Potential return date: UnknownWesley FofanaThe luckless Fofana suffered a serious knee injury before Chelsea’s pre-season tour last summer and needed surgery on his ACL.He seemed to be making good progress in his recovery after being pictured in light training at Cobham, though Pochettino admitted earlier in March that it was “difficult to see” the French centre-back playing again this season.Potential return date: Summer 2024

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