Palmer, Gusto & Chilwell: Chelsea injury news and return dates ahead of Aston Villa clash

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The latest Chelsea injury news ahead of their Premier League showdown with Aston Villa, including an update on Cole Palmer.

Things don’t get any easier for Chelsea after a difficult week which saw them suffer a record 5-0 defeat to Arsenal just days after losing to Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup – they face another stern test at Stamford Bridge this Saturday evening when Aston Villa visit in the Premier League.

To make matters worse, Chelsea still have an extensive injury and illness list which grew larger ahead of the crushing defeat at the Emirates with the withdrawals of Cole Palmer and Malo Gusto.

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There was at least some good news as Raheem Sterling got off the bench for some minutes after a recent injury, but ten players remain either out or a doubt for the game against Villa. We’ve collected all of the latest information on their condition and likely return dates below.

Cole Palmer

The Premier League’s joint leading goalscorer was forced to miss the match at the Emirates due to an illness, the nature of which has not been specified by Chelsea but which has been reported in some quarters as being a simple cold.

If that’s the case – and certainly Mauricio Pochettino’s pre-match comments, which suggested that he would be assessed ahead of the game, implied that the illness isn’t serious – then it’s more than likely that he’ll be able to play on Saturday, but with Chelsea keeping their cards very close to their chest on fitness issues this season, there are no guarantees that their talisman will have recovered in time to play.

Malo Gusto

The French wing-back has been one of the more successful signings of the post-Abramovich era but was another absentee against Arsenal thanks to a “minor problem in his knee ligaments,” as Pochettino described it.

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The injury was likely picked up in the second half of the FA Cup encounter with Manchester City, when Gusto was withdrawn with a knock. Chelsea have not provided any information on a likely return date or the severity of the issue beyond the manager saying that “I hope it’s not a big issue.” It is unclear whether he will be able to face Aston Villa.

Ben Chilwell

The England left-back has struggled for fitness since early March thanks to a persistent knee problem, and while he was able to get on the field for 10 minutes against Manchester City he was named subsequently left out of the match-day squad against Arsenal.

Pochettino has only said that it is “the same problem he suffered in the last few weeks” but didn’t elucidate further, and it isn’t clear whether he was rested as a precaution or whether his cameo against City aggravated the injury. As with Gusto, it is not clear whether he will be fit for the weekend or not.

Christopher Nkunku

The French forward has endured an injury-interrupted first campaign with Chelsea but is back in “partial training” as he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring problem. Although getting closer to a return, he is not yet back in full training and is highly unlikely to feature against Villa. A comeback in early May is more plausible.

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Levi Colwill

A toe injury has proven more severe than initially expected, and Colwill has now been out for nearly two months. As with most injuries this season, Chelsea have provided details extremely sparingly, with the only recent update being that he is continuing a rehab programme. There is no word on a likely return date as yet.

Robert Sánchez

The Spanish goalkeeper, who started the season as first-choice shot-stopper, is back in light training after recovering from both injury and a recent illness. It is unclear as to whether he will replace Đorđe Petrović once he is back to full fitness, be as he works his way back to health it seems unlikely that he will be in the squad for the Villa match anyway.

Lesley Ugochukwu

The young midfielder hasn’t played since Christmas Eve thanks to an ongoing concern over his hamstring. The 20-year-old is facing a race against the clock to be back in time for the end of the season, with reports suggesting a mid-May return date. It looks likely that his next appearance in blue will come in 2024/25.

Reece James

Like Ugochukwu, James has been out of action since December with a hamstring problem and the club have declined to offer updates since. There is no word on whether he is likely to play again before the end of the current campaign.

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Roméo Lavia

The summer signing has been plagued by injuries and has managed just 32 minutes in the Premier League since arriving from Southampton – and he won’t add to that tally thanks to a serious thigh injury. He is expected to be back to fitness in June, with the club hoping that he will be able to play a full role next year.

Wesley Fofana

Another big-money signing who has endured a torrid time with injuries, Fofana suffered a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury in pre-season and has missed the entire campaign as a consequence. He will not play until next season as he continues his rehabilitation.

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