By Our Correspondent
Chelsea striker Christopher Nkunku is reportedly expected to sit out his side’s Premier League opener against Liverpool after sustaining a knee injury during the Blues’ tour of the USA.
The former RB Leipzig man had hit the ground running under Mauricio Pochettino after touching down in West London, scoring in his first two games for the club against Wrexham and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Nkunku also made the net ripple in a 2-0 win over Fulham on July 30 as Chelsea clinched the Premier League Summer Series, but his outing against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday came to an end with just a quarter of the game gone.
However, Nkunku could still be out for a number of weeks, and as a result he is not expected to be ready in time for Chelsea’s opening 2023-24 Premier League clash against Liverpool on August 13.
Nkunku underwent scans immediately after touching back down in London on Thursday, and the results are said to have been reassuring for the former Paris Saint-Germain attacker.
Chelsea played out their stalemate with Dortmund at Chicago’s Soldier Field after the ground had hosted an Ed Sheeran concert, leading to complaints from players about the poor surface conditions.
Nevertheless, Pochettino refused to blame the pitch for Nkunku’s injury, instead attributing the Frenchman’s problem to “bad luck”, telling the press: “I didn’t see the action but it is not about complaining.
“Always we take some risks because the pitch is not perfect, because they are using it for different sports and those are sometimes the risk of the tour.
“I think it was a bit unlucky in the situation but we cannot complain about the pitch nor blame the pitch for why he suffered the injury. For me, it was bad luck.”
Nkunku is no stranger to knee injuries, having been forced to miss the 2022 World Cup after picking up a sprain while training with France just before the tournament in Qatar.
The striker spent three months on the sidelines before also struggling with a torn muscle in the latter stages of the 2022-23 campaign, but he still managed 23 goals and nine assists from 36 matches during his farewell season with Leipzig.
The Blues already have two knee-related absentees in the shape of Armando Broja and Wesley Fofana, the latter of whom underwent surgery on an ACL issue earlier this summer.
Trevoh Chalobah, Benoit Badiashile, Carney Chukwuemeka and Marcus Bettinelli are also taking up spots in the infirmary ahead of Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge next weekend.