Chelsea boss Graham Potter has been buoyed by the return of Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz for the Blues’ Premier League clash with Aston Villa. Potter is hoping his side can mount a late push for European qualification in the final two months of the season and is welcoming back some key stars.
Express Sport takes a look at a likely line-up.
Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga
After a tumultuous five years at Chelsea, Kepa Arrizabalaga has found himself as Potter’s first-choice goalkeeper. The Spaniard is ahead of Eduoard Mendy in the pecking order but faces the possibility that the Blues seek to buy a new shot-stopper in the summer.
Defence: Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly, Benoit Badiashile
Kalidou Koulibaly appears to have finally settled into life at Chelsea after a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge. The Nigerian started each of the club’s last five Premier League games before the international break.
The experienced centre-back could be charged with marshalling two youngsters on either side. Wesley Fofana has done well since reemerging after a serious knee injury, while Benoit Badiashile could start ahead of Marc Cucurella.
Midfield: Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Enzo Fernandez, Ben Chilwell
Potter would have been delighted when he learned the injury that forced wing-back James to withdraw from England duty was not a serious one. James pulled out of the Euro 2024 qualifier with Ukraine as a precaution after experiencing discomfort in his hamstring.
N’Golo Kante could feature for the first time since August. The Frenchman returned to the bench for the 2-2 draw with Everton before the international break and has had a full two weeks to improve his sharpness.
“We have to manage that, that’s the next stage,” Potter said of Kante’s return. “Building those minutes in the Premier League. He’s been training well. He’s available in the squad and I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the pitch at some point tomorrow.”
Mount is also set to play but could be limited to an appearance from the substitutes’ bench. The Chelsea academy graduate has been linked to a reunion with Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich.