Graham Potter issues triple injury update; Zakaria ‘training well’ and in contention for Dinamo

Chelsea boss Graham Potter has revealed that Kalidou Koulibaly is likely to play against Dinamo Zagreb after recovering from a minor injury.

The Blues take on the Croatian side on Wednesday night with their Champions League group already won.

Potter’s side will be hoping for revenge after losing their opening group game against Dinamo.

Thomas Tuchel was in charge for Chelsea’s trip to the Croatian capital in what was his final game before being sacked.

Potter suffered his first loss as Chelsea head coach on Saturday when his side were battered 4-1 by his former club Brighton.

Asked if he is embracing the pressure after the loss, Potter said: “Pressure, from one game you mean?

“In my job you’ve got to be careful what you listen to. People can talk and say whatever. It’s part of life, you understand when you’re at a club like this, you’re only 90 minutes away from a crisis.

“There’s always people who don’t like you, there’s always people who have a different view of what the situation is.

“It’s been a process since the game. It’s never nice to lose.

“We got caught up with the atmosphere. they came out the blocks very fast, we didn’t do that ourselves.

“We had a big chance to make it 2-1 and the game probably became more open than we would like, I think their goalie makes a good save but in the end we didn’t do well enough.”

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was substituted at half-time with an injury after shifting No.1 Edouard Mendy to the bench.

Potter confirmed that Kepa will not be available for the Zagreb game, but revealed that Mateo Kovacic didn’t train as a ‘precaution’.

Koulibaly, on the other hand, will be available to face Dinamo “provided there is no reaction” to his injury.

“Kepa won’t be available for the game, slight issue with his plantar fascia,” Potter said.

“Kovacic just precautionary with his calf. Got a chance, we will make a decision later on.

“Koulibaly – provided there is no reaction, he’ll be available.”

Asked if he has spoken to Mendy over his reduced game time, Potter responded: “I’ve had some good chats with him and he’s been great.

“He was injured when we first arrived and Kepa played and did well. He’s honest enough to know he had to be patient and support Kepa.

“He’s kept his standards and now has his opportunity.”

On if Mendy can give him some difficult decisions to make, Potter said: “You hope so. You want as many difficult decisions as possible. That can only be beneficial.”

While Koulibaly is likely to play, summer signing Denis Zakaria is also in contention.

The Swiss midfielder signed for Chelsea on a season-long loan on deadline day but is yet to make a single appearance for the Premier League club.

Zakaria has been an unused substitute in all five Champions League matches and in the last four Premier League encounters.

“I think I’ve mentioned him before and he’s been really good, he’s trained well supporting his teammates,” Potter said.

“He’s in the frame for tomorrow, he’s available for selection, so we’ll wait and see.”

Chelsea know they have already won their group, but Potter will want a big reaction from his players after losing 4-1 at Brighton on Saturday.

“I think we have to have respect for the competition and respect for the teams,” the Blues boss said. “We have to prepare to win.

“We want to respond from the disappointment at the weekend. We’ll pick a team that we think can win.”

Potter admits he is not likely to use a bunch of young players with their place in the last 16 of the Champions League already guaranteed.

“I don’t think it’s a time to use young players for the sake of it,” said.

“A lot of them have been impressive, I like the character and they’ve had a role in what we do here.”

On the sort of game he is expecting tactically, Potter added: “I don’t think two games are the same and you should never predict what the game is going to be.

“We need to realise we are the protagonists because we’re at home.

“Dinamo have dangerous players, they can spring from defence to attack, you only have to look at the goal they scored against us in the first game.”

Potter was also asked about the form of Raheem Sterling – who joined Chelsea from Manchester City for around £50million in the summer.

The England winger only has four times in 16 matches across all competitions this term and is without a goal in his last nine appearances.

Asked if he is worried about Sterling’s form with the World Cup coming up, Potter replied: “I’ve not thought about that in terms of the World Cup. That’s your opinion.

“It’s too easy to zoom into the individual.”

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