Rio Ferdinand predicts issues for Pochettino as Nkunku emerges

Rio Ferdinand predicts issues for Pochettino as Nkunku emerges

Rio Ferdinand has backed Christopher Nkunku to ‘come good’ despite a slow start to life at Chelsea. The 26-year-old forward, who joined the Blues from RB Leipzig in the summer for £52million, was dealt a major blow to his knee during a pre-season clash against Borussia Dortmund in the United States.

After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Nkunku finally made his competitive debut for Chelsea in December when the Blues defeated Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal. The France international marked his return from the treatment room with a crucial spot-kick during the penalty shootout before scoring on his Premier League debut a few days later.

Just as Nkunku began to build a head of steam, he was omitted from the west Londoners’ squad which faced Preston North End in the FA Cup third round at the weekend due to injury. Fortunately, Pochettino has since confirmed that the Frenchman suffered a hip issue in training rather than a reoccurrence of his knee problem.

“It’s not related to his old injury, it’s a different problem,” said the Chelsea boss. “A small issue in his hip, not in his knee, we are cautious with him because it is six months from his injury, and he was involved in few games.”

However, Pochettino ruled Nkunku out of the Blues’ clash against Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night. The 51-year-old added: “He won’t be involved tomorrow, we will see for Saturday.

“We are not sure, we are going to be cautious. Hope it is not a long period. At the moment he is not training, he is doing recovery. Not a big issue.”

Despite a troubled start to life in west London, Ferdinand has backed Nkunku to be a success for Chelsea. Speaking on the FIVE YouTube channel, the former Manchester United defender said: “Nkunku will come good. I watched him play a lot in the Champions League. Proper player.”

After Nkunku scored the opener in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 Champions League win over Celtic back in October 2022, Ferdinand heaped great praise on the forward. Speaking on BT Sport, which now referred to as TNT Sport, he said: “He grew up at PSG by the way so he’s always been identified as a big talent.

“He’s gone to Leipzig and over the years in the Champions League, I’ve seen him grow, grow in stature. You can see the confidence and I’m not surprised he’s coming to the Premier League.”

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