Chelsea boss Graham Potter allays Denis Zakaria injury fears amid anxious wait over Ben Chilwell blow

Chelsea boss Graham Potter allays Denis Zakaria injury fears amid anxious wait over Ben Chilwell blow

Chelsea boss Graham Potter has allayed injury concerns over Denis Zakaria following his impressive debut against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.

The Juventus loanee finally made his Blues bow in Wednesday night’s Group E dead-rubber clash at Stamford Bridge, a full two months after joining the club on summer deadline day, driving in what proved to be the winning goal after half an hour after Raheem Sterling had already cancelled out Bruno Petkovic’s shock opener in west London.

Chelsea’s comeback win was overshadowed by an injury to Ben Chilwell, whose World Cup hopes with England could be in danger after he limped off with an apparent hamstring problem deep into second-half stoppage time.

“Not great,” Potter said of Chilwell’s injury after the game. “Obviously, when he pulls up like that it’s a concern. Obviously, we need to scan it but it’s not positive at the moment.

“It’s a blow for us on an otherwise positive evening. To see him pull up like that, it’s not a great sight. So fingers crossed when we get it scanned it isn’t too bad. It can be not as severe but we have to cross our fingers at the moment. But clearly, we’re disappointed.

Match-winner: Denis Zakaria made quite an impression on his long-awaited Chelsea debut (Getty Images)
Match-winner: Denis Zakaria made quite an impression on his long-awaited Chelsea debut (Getty Images)

“I spoke to him briefly. He just felt something as he was setting off. He is disappointed and upset.”

While Chelsea face an anxious wait over Chilwell, there was at least good news on Zakaria. The Swiss international was also replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek with under 20 minutes remaining against Zagreb after appearing to suffer a knock of his own.

However, Potter claimed afterwards that it was merely a contact issue and that he had suffered no lasting damage as questions turn towards whether he should be involved in Sunday’s high-profile Premier League London derby against leaders Arsenal at the Bridge.

“He just got a kick. Just the contact. He was fine. No problems with him,” Potter said.

Asked if he was surprised by the quality of Zakaria’s performance against Zagreb given his total lack of football over recent weeks, the Chelsea coach added: “He’s been, as you can imagine, frustrated and disappointed when he doesn’t play. That’s the life of a player but he’s handled himself really well.

“He’s kept himself fit, he’s trained really hard, supported the team and his teammates in a really good way. When you do that, you give yourself a chance to perform when your opportunity comes. So credit to him. Everyone was so happy for him and it was a great story for the whole group I think.”