Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino plans unique tactical change with key trio out vs Fulham

Jackson is Chelsea’s only natural No 9 but will now be suspended for Chelsea’s visit to Fulham, prompting frustration from Pochettino over his ill-discipline. The £30m summer signing has been added to a growing list of absences with the Blues suffering from a mini injury crisis. 

First-choice wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James will also miss Monday’s game. Pochettino ominously warned that Chilwell’s injury is ‘bad news’ and that both players face further medical tests. 

Speaking about how his side could line up, the Blues boss said: “We have a few options with a striker and without a striker. We need to assess the whole squad after the game. Things appear after 48 hours and we need to see how they are and how they recover from Wednesday.”

Pressed on playing without a centre-forward, he added: “The most important thing is to adapt, the squad needs to find a way to perform, that is the most important [thing]. We can play with one striker or maybe we can play without a striker. I think it is still a few days and I need to see and assess the squad about this situation.”

Vice-captain Chilwell hobbled off the pitch despite lasting the full 90 minutes of Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Brighton in the Carabao Cup. The 26-year-old had only just returned to the starting 11 having lost his place in the side. 

Pochettino is concerned that it could be a repeat of a hamstring injury that Chilwell suffered last season. Speaking about the England star’s setback, the Argentine said: “Bad news. The doctor told me is it is a bad injury but we need to assess in the next few days. 

“Yes [it’s the same leg as last season]. I think so. It’s the mechanism of the action. He was a little bit unlucky in the way he suffered the injury. It’s very sad because he was doing a very good game.”

On the timescale of Chilwell’s absence, Pochettino said:  “It’s difficult to know. We need to assess in the next few days. The club will communicate.”

Chelsea will also be without fellow defender James, while Malo Gusto is suspended after his red card against Aston Villa. “In all the clubs, important players you always miss when they don’t play. Of course we always miss top players,” Pochettino said of missing key stars.

“When they are at their best, of course they are some of the best in the world. All of the team, we miss some important players. There’s only one Reece James and one Ben Chilwell. The club tried with Malo Gusto, Marc Cucurella and Levi can play there.”