Nicolas Jackson is suspended for Chelsea’s Premier League meeting with Fulham on Monday evening, so Maurico Pochettino is forced to replace him. The problem is that Chelsea aren’t blessed with a lot of attacking options due to the ongoing injury crisis.
Ryan Taylor of the Mirror said Pochettino might be forced to throw Armando Broja in the deep end, despite the 22-year-old playing only 11 minutes of football this season after recently recovering from a knee injury. The only other option would be to start Raheem Sterling in the makeshift role, but that would leave a void on the wing to fill.
Broja won’t be close to match fitness
Broja has made only two appearances in all competitions this season, amassing 14 minutes of playing time as he came into the new campaign with a ruptured cruciate ligament injury. The Albanian international missed Chelsea’s first five Premier League games before making the bench in their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on September 24.
He was introduced in the latter stages of the match and would come off the bench days later in their League Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion, but his match fitness will still be shot. Broja hasn’t had a pre-season or any extended training, so Pochettino knows he’ll be taking a risk starting him against Fulham.
But with Christopher Nkunku still sidelined, Jackson suspended and Deivid Washington far too inexperienced to feature, there’s no other natural centre-forward to pick.
Sterling might be a safer bet
Sterling isn’t a natural in the role, but he is at least match fit and has been a makeshift centre-forward in the past. Stats show Sterling has 14 goals and six assists from the 28 games he’s played up front, so he wouldn’t be a bad last resort.
The 28-year-old would need to be replaced on the wing, however, so Cole Palmer might be in line to start. He impressed in Chelsea’s win over Brighton and deserves a spot in the XI, so this might be the best option for Pochettino – a front three of Mykhaylo Mudryk, Sterling and Palmer.
Noni Madueke is returning from injury but might not be fit enough to start on the wing, so he could provide cover on the bench.