Christopher Nkunku returns as how Mauricio Pochettino will lineup Chelsea against Newcastle

 Chelsea take on Newcastle United when the Premier League returns to action this week and Mauricio Pochettino will have a busy week to prepare his squad for the fixture

Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino of Chelsea during a training session
Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino of Chelsea during a training session

With the second week of the international break now underway and Chelsea's stars soon to be making their way back to west London, attention can turn towards Newcastle. The Blues make the trip to St James' Park when they return to Premier League action on Saturday and will hope to come away with three points having failed to do so in either attempt last term.

Pochettino is tasked with maintaining the momentum the west London side built ahead of the break with goalscoring performances against Tottenham and Manchester City hinting at what his team may be capable of. Chelsea have managed to draws returning from the international break so far this season with a dismal stalemate against Bournemouth and an impressive outing against Arsenal saw the Blues drop two points from a winning position.

The 51-year-old coach will welcome his players back over the course of the next few days so takes a look at what Pochettino must facilitate this week.

Practice with a possible back four

While Chelsea's squad has been diminished over the last seven days due to internationals and injuries, the Blues have been able to enjoy a rare privilege. Though Axel Disasi got a late France call-up following the game against Man City, and Levi Colwill's injury was deemed severe enough to be released from England's squad, Pochettino still had a number of options he could oversee. Thiago Silva was afforded time to go back to his homeland but has since returned and can quickly complete work with Reece James, Benoit Badiashile and Marc Cucurella.

It feels that will be a pivotal moment for the French central defender with opportunities not coming easily. Time to work with three players who very feasibly could be in the starting lineup against Newcastle can only offer him the perfect opportunity to impress Pochettino.

Don't rush Christopher Nkunku

The status of Christopher Nkunku has probably provided more anticipation than anything else over the last seven days or so. With the possibility of the French star being in contention for the game against Newcastle, in addition to Romeo Lavia, the excitement has been palpable, with neither player having made their competitive debut yet.

Pochettino noted ahead of the break: "We had some conversation and he [Nkunku] said to me, 'Coach, I want to be ready for after international break, Newcastle'. I asked him yesterday and he said 'hmmm', and I said 'you are liar'. 'No, no I am ready'.

"It is close and he is doing really well. We are so happy with him, the way he is recovering, he is very professional. Romeo Lavia is also close. They trained today on the pitch. Hope that next week will be involved with the team and see after. Day by day see when it is possible to play with the team."

Pochettino stayed clear of providing a definitive return to instead take a day-by-day approach, and with no Chelsea media showing Nkunku training with the rest of his teammates up until now there will be questions of whether he will be fit enough for Chelsea's squad.

The Blues have shown patience in such moments this season. They refused to rush back Reece James and must take a similar approach with Nkunku. There can be no temptation to take any risks, even with an array of players not arriving at Cobham until late in the week, with little time to prepare for the clash in the North East.

Rest, recover and energise

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez, as always, will have to endure a tight turnaround between representing their nations in the early hours of Wednesday morning before squeezing in some preparation before facing the Magpies. The likes of Conor Gallagher picked up a knock heading into international duty with England, so how he returns will have to be carefully monitored in addition to the likes of Colwill and Malo Gusto who joined team training on Monday.

The staggered return will pose a challenge for the Blues who have utilised development squad and under-18s stars in the break so far, as he tries to get his team to peak at the same time and to find their legs playing together and gameplan to face Newcastle. Chelsea travel to play the Magpies in a different run of form to their journey 12 months. Defeat on that occasion saw Chelsea head into the World Cup break having lost three consecutive games for the first time since August 2006 and be without a win in five consecutive Premier League games for the first time since 2012.

Pochettino will hope to energise his team from the win over Tottenham and dramatic draw with Manchester City, and to maintain that with a fighting, energetic performance against a depleted Newcastle side. Capturing the club's team spirit again quickly will be important.

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