‘I hope it’s not a big issue’: Pochettino worried over Nkunku knee injury

Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea needed to assess Christopher Nkunku after the forward limped off with a knee injury against Borussia Dortmund.

Nkunku was forced off during the first half of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw in Chicago and faces a fight to be fit for the start of the Premier League season. Pochettino, whose side host Liverpool on the opening weekend, is hoping the France international did not sustain any serious damage.

Related: Chelsea lose Christopher Nkunku to injury in pre-season draw with Dortmund

“The doctors are checking him and I hope it’s not a big issue,” Chelsea’s head coach said. “He fell in the action which was maybe a penalty and he feels something in his knee but we hope it is nothing big. We hope he can be back quickly with the team. We need a few days to assess him.”

Nkunku has impressed for his new team during pre-season and Chelsea lost some of their flow when he went off. There were questions over whether a patchy pitch had caused the injury. “The pitch is not perfect because the facilities are used for a different sport,” Pochettino said. “We won’t blame the pitch for the injury, though. It was bad luck.”

There was some encouragement for Chelsea, who emerged from pre-season unbeaten after Mason Burstow cancelled out Marius Wolf’s opener. Levi Colwill, who signed a new long-term deal this week, impressed alongside Thiago Silva in central defence and could start against Liverpool on 13 August.

Pochettino knows there are problems to solve, though. He said he wanted to strengthen in midfield and Chelsea remain in talks with Brighton & Hove Albion over a deal for Moisés Caicedo. Nkunku’s injury could also force Chelsea to step up their attempts to sign a striker – they could bring one in if they agree to send Romelu Lukaku to Juventus in exchange for Dusan Vlahovic. Pochettino must decide whether he wants Vlahovic.

Chelsea are also trying to sign the Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sánchez and want reinforcements in attacking midfield. However Pochettino does not want too many additions. His team against Dortmund will be close to the one that starts against Liverpool, although he refused to say whether Reece James would be named as Chelsea’s new captain. Thiago Silva appears the natural choice, but James was given the armband against Dortmund. “I don’t know if we are going to change but Reece is a possibility,” Pochettino said.

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