Christian Pulisic is expected to be out for up to two months with a knee injury, Chelsea head coach Graham Potter confirmed on Wednesday.
The United States international limped out of last week’s Premier League home defeat to Manchester City and has since undergone a series of tests to determine the extent of the problem.
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Speaking ahead of Thursday’s trip to Fulham, Potter told a news conference: « Christian is a couple of months we think, hopefully less, but that’s the timeframe there. »
The news will come as a significant blow to Pulisic, as sources had told ESPN the 24-year-old was eyeing a move away from Stamford Bridge this month.
Contact has been made with Manchester United and Newcastle over a possible loan deal, but Pulisic’s latest fitness setback will severely damage the prospect of a temporary switch.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has recovered from a back problem, while Raheem Sterling is undergoing examinations on a hamstring problem with an as yet unspecified return date.
Chelsea travel to Craven Cottage sitting in 10th place, 10 points behind fourth-placed United. Potter is under mounting pressure as supporters chanted the name of his predecessor, Thomas Tuchel, during last weekend’s 4-0 FA Cup third-round defeat at City.
Speaking about the criticism he has faced, Potter said: « You have to understand that it is part of the job. You only have to look at some of my colleagues in a similar position. Pep [Guardiola] for example in his first season would have been criticized quite heavily. Mikel Arteta has had to endure a period of criticism. Jurgen Klopp in the first few years would have got some criticism as well and these guys are fantastic.
« Football is emotional. When you lose, you don’t really think about it — you feel it. You feel the suffering, the discomfort. Sometimes it is hard to understand the why, and it is easy just to blame someone. I am not sitting here saying I’ve been absolutely perfect so they are not completely wrong but I think it is always very complex.
« You try to put it into perspective, you try to remember that you are capable. You try to remember how you got here. Two months ago I was considered to be a top coach and if you consider the people I’ve played against and played with, they would probably say the same but at the same time I acknowledge the results we have had are not good enough and you have to deal with that as best you can, put it into perspective and keep moving forward. »