Chelsea winger Mykhailo Mudryk celebrates a goal

Mauricio Pochettino said he was happy with the performance of Mykhailo Mudryk in a central position for Chelsea against Leeds.

Mudryk has struggled to convince since signing for Chelsea from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee of £88.5m in the 2023 January transfer window and has started just nine times in the Premier League this season.

The Ukraine international was included from the start for the 3-2 FA Cup fifth round win over Leeds in midweek and impressed in an unfamiliar central role behind Nicolas Jackson.

The winger scored his fifth goal of the season with a fine finish and shone in a lively performance at Stamford Bridge. Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of facing Brentford, Pochettino hinted it is a position that could bring the best from the 23-year-old.

“It was a good opportunity with four offensive players like Raheem [Sterling], [Noni] Madueke and Nicolas [Jackson] to try and help him be more connected in the game.

“I was happy with him. He finished the game on the left side but it was good for him to have an opportunity to play there. It forced him to be more involved and read the game in a different way to when he plays out wide.”

Pochettino provided an update on the fitness of his squad and confirmed Christopher Nkunku is facing a ‘few weeks’ on the sidelines. The France forward has been ravaged by injury problems since arriving from RB Leipzig in the summer and has featured for just 318 minutes in the Premier League.

“We need to assess him [Thiago Silva] and Marc Cucurella, both have the possibility to be involved in the squad. It’s good news.

“[Christopher] Nkunku, I think he suffered a problem in his hamstring and now we see if he can be ok in a few weeks. Now he is doing recovery, he’s a bit unlucky. It’s tough for a player that didn’t play too much. He was so good in pre-season but it has been a difficult season for him.

“I say bad luck because I don’t have the knowledge about medicine and why these things happen. I say bad luck because I don’t have other things to say.”

Read – Pochettino admits Carabao Cup aftermath toughest period of his Chelsea reign

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