Chelsea predicted line-up vs Fulham: £89m star returns as one major change made

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The latest Chelsea team news, injury updates, and predicted XI, ahead of their Premier League clash with Fulham.

Every time Chelsea look as if they have made some kind of meaningful progress under Mauricio Pochettino, a result comes along that acts as a hammer blow to their confidence and sends them tumbling right the way back to where they started. The Blues had won three successive games across all competitions prior to Tuesday's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Middlesbrough, but an upset at the hands of their Championship opposition has left them facing something of an uphill battle in the return fixture.

This weekend, attention turns back to the Premier League, with a West London derby against Fulham to contend with. For their part, the Cottagers have lost three of their last five outings in the top flight, and also came out of a Carabao Cup semi-final first leg in midweek facing a one-goal deficit after slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Anfield against Liverpool.

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But how will both sides line up at Stamford Bridge on Saturday? We've taken a look at their respective team news and predicted XIs below...

Chelsea Team News

Chelsea continue to be plagued by injury issues, and could be without as many as 12 first team players on Saturday lunchtime. All being well, Benoit Badiashile, Ben Chilwell, and Carney Chukwuemeka could be back in contention to feature, although that trio will still face late assessments, and there is a chance that they may have to wait a little while longer to make their returns to action.

Elsewhere, Romeo Lavia and Robert Sanchez are expected to be available later in January, while striker Nicolas Jackson is away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations. The length of his absence depends entirely on how far his native Senegal go in the tournament.

Meanwhile, there are no return dates for Trevor Chalobah or Lesley Ugochukwu, with both players suffering from hamstring injuries, while the likes of Reece James and Marc Cucurella are not expected back until March at the earliest. Wesley Fofana may not play again this season after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery last year.

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And finally, summer signing Christopher Nkunku is a major doubt, with Pochettino stating ahead of the defeat to Middlesbrough: 'We have to be careful with him. He was involved in a few games, but now we are being cautious, so he will not be involved tomorrow, and we will see for Saturday.'

Chelsea Predicted XI

Dorde Petrovic; Malo Gusto, Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill; Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo; Raheem Sterling, Conor Gallagher, Mykhailo Mudryk; Cole Palmer.

Fulham Team News

By comparison, Fulham boast a relatively clean bill of health. Their only real injury concern is Adama Traore, who is not expected back until later this month due to a hamstring strain. Tim Ream was fit enough to make the bench against Liverpool in midweek, and may return to the starting XI on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Cottagers have lost a trio of players to the African Cup of Nations, with Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi both representing Nigeria, and Fode Ballo-Toure on duty for Senegal.

Fulham Predicted XI

Bernd Leno; Timothy Castagne, Tosin Adarabioyo, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson; Harrison Reed, Joao Palhinha; Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Andreas Pereira, Willian; Raul Jimenez.

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