Mauricio Pochettino sends subtle Mykhailo Mudryk Chelsea hint after Ben Chilwell experiment


Mauricio Pochettino hinted at form being an issue for Mykhailo Mudryk as he was once again left on the bench for Chelsea during their 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

The Ukrainian winger wasn't able to impact the game as he came on late into the match with his side behind already. It means that the Blues enter the first international break of the season with just four points from their opening four games and defeats to two sides they had been expected to perform better against.

From a relatively tame set of fixtures on paper Chelsea have come unstuck with a somewhat unorthodox system used by Pochettino. Despite opting for a standard 4-2-3-1 shape in pre-season that has been changed following the injury to Christopher Nkunku during the tour of America.

In place of the French attacker Chelsea have switched to using Ben Chilwell on the left of an attacking quartet with natural centre-back Levi Colwill as a left-back. It's a trend that has happened in each of the league games so far with disappointing results.

Although injuries have caused an issue for Pochettino in the early weeks of his competitive tenure, fans have been left scratching their heads as to why Mudryk, who is the only fit left-sided attacker in the squad, continues to be left out.

"He is a very talented player," Pochettino said when asked about the 22-year-old's lack of gametime. "He needs to first of all, before talking about football, is feel comfortable, feel really strong in his body, he suffered from the beginning, I remember the Euros he only played one game, was never consistent in training always something happened.

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"We are focused on trying to help him be really strong and healthy and feel good to after start to perform. No-one can perform if you don't feel strong in your body. All of the areas he needs to feel good and we are working. Hope in the next weeks he starts to find his form."

Mudryk, as Pochettino eluded to, had a disjointed pre-season following the Under-21 European Championships and has struggled to find consistent fitness since. That being said, he has found himself in the squad for three of the four league matches to this point.

It is he that represents the most natural replacement for Chilwell in the current shape, a move that would see both him and Colwill revert to positions that suit their game more. However, when asked what was stopping him from varying selection more, Pochettino said: "Of course, we are picking the team we believe is going to be more competitive, help balance the team in the way we want to play.

"Yes, the more options you have, it is better to increase the level, the competition between them. More possibility to play with in form player and different ideas."

With new signing Cole Palmer, Noni Madueke and the talented Ian Maatsen all coming on to try and make a difference, Pochettino did start to experiment out of desperation but his comments hint at Mudryk's form being a big issue when it comes to getting more minutes.

Some will suggest that in order to build form he needs more chances from the get-go but for now it's a question Pochettino needs to find an answer to.

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