Chelsea injury update: Broja and James back in action ahead of Brighton cup tie

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has received some good news on the injury front as two key players have returned to the squad ahead of the Carabao Cup fourth round clash against Brighton on Wednesday.

Armando Broja, the 22-year-old striker who suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee last season, made his first Premier League appearance since November 2022 as a substitute in Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday. Broja had been sidelined for almost 10 months after injuring his knee in a mid-season friendly against the same opponents. He underwent surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process before finally being cleared to play again.

Broja’s return is a huge boost for the Blues, who have struggled to score goals in the English top-flight this term. They have netted just five times in six games, with Nicolas Jackson being their only reliable source of goals. However, the French forward will miss the next three matches due to suspension after being sent off for a reckless challenge on Villa’s John McGinn.

Chelsea injury update: Broja and James back in action ahead of Brighton cup tie
Chelsea injury update: Broja and James back in action ahead of Brighton cup tie

Pochettino will be hoping that Broja can rediscover his form from last season, when he scored 12 goals in 24 games across all competitions. The Albania international, who joined Chelsea from Vitesse Arnhem in 2021, has been tipped as one of the brightest prospects in European football. He has also impressed on the international stage, scoring four goals in six appearances for his country.

James back in contention after hamstring injury

Reece James, the 23-year-old right-back who has been out of action since August with a hamstring injury, is also back in contention for the Brighton game. James picked up the injury at the end of last season and missed the start of the new campaign. He returned to training last week and was named on the bench against Villa, but did not feature in the match.

James is one of Chelsea’s most important players, as he provides pace, energy and creativity from the right flank. He was instrumental in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last season, as he played in every game and delivered some outstanding performances. He also established himself as a regular starter for England at Euro 2020, where he helped his country reach the final.

Pochettino will be delighted to have James available again, as he adds more depth and quality to his defensive options. The Argentine coach has been forced to rotate his backline due to injuries and suspensions, with Benoit Badiashile, Marc Cucurella and Noni Madueke all missing games at some point this season. James will compete with Cucurella and Madueke for the right-back spot, while Badiashile is still recovering from a setback in his hamstring recovery.

Other injury updates

Apart from Broja and James, Chelsea have no other major injury concerns ahead of the Brighton game. However, Pochettino may decide to rest some of his key players and give opportunities to some of his fringe players and youngsters. The likes of Carney Chukwuemeka, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount could all feature in the cup tie, as they look to impress their manager and stake their claim for more regular minutes.

Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Villa, which saw them drop to fourth place in the Premier League table. They will face a tough test against Brighton, who are unbeaten in their last five games and sit third in the league standings. The Seagulls have also knocked out Cardiff City and Swansea City from the Carabao Cup so far, and will be hoping to cause another upset against the reigning European champions.

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