Before Chelsea‘s Sunday Premier League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park, Graham Potter addressed the media, carefully on the team-related questions, providing an injury report, and more.
On what is the latest on Reece James' injury: "He is due to see a specialist over the weekend so until we get that information there is not much more I can add. The rest will just be speculation from my perspective. We will wait and see."
On what has Reece been saying about the injury: "He spoke yesterday and felt not too bad. But again until you get these things checked, you never know so we need to make sure it’s checked with the specialist, and then we can find a way forward." On being a huge blow for Chelsea and England if he is ruled out for some time: "Yes, but we will wait and see. There is no point looking at the doomsday scenario yet. We just need to check and make sure if he’s ok and then move forward."
On what's the latest on N'Golo Kante, has he had a setback in his recovery: "Again he’s due to see a consultant at the weekend. It’s a setback so it’s not good news. But anything other than that, at this stage I can’t give you any more.
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On Wesley Fofana: "He is just progressing where he was. I don’t think we will see him before the World Cup."
On giving every player an opportunity as promised: “Well, I think we have quite a few games in a short space of time. So we’ve had to use the group as wisely as possible which we’ve done. I’ve been really impressed with the guys, their attitudes have been fantastic. There are still a few lads that haven’t had game time but that isn’t because they’ve done anything wrong, they can field eleven. "So the main focus now is to go game to game and keep progressing. I don’t think we’re at the maximum in terms of where the team is at, we’re not at the limit and there is more to come from the team and individuals. So always keep an open mind and we will see.”
On Edouard Mendy being behind Kepa in the last few weeks:
“He’s been great, attitude fantastic, and supporting the team. He was obviously injured when I arrived and Kepa has played, done well and contributed to positive results. We’re in the situation now where we have two really good goalkeepers in the competition and that is what we need to push each other along.”
On handling big-name players and players with bigger egos than he had at Brighton and previous clubs: “I’ve found it really good. As I’ve said many times, the players are open, honest and responsible. They are ambitious and determined and want to do well. So far so good from my perspective.”
On having big or hard conversations with any of the players yet: “As far as I’m aware, they are still human beings. There is a media perception when they get to a certain level that they grow a second head or something and they become not like the rest of us. That is easy to put out there but the reality is not the case. "At Brighton, there weren’t ‘big’ players but Adam Lallana won the Champions League and played for Liverpool for seven years, Danny Welbeck has had a good career and I spoke to those guys and did alright with them despite their second head because players have massive egos.”
On Aston Villa head coach Steve Gerrard struggling ahead of the game: “The margins are very small as we’ve said in the Premier League. I’m sure Steven will want to improve the results and will be looking to this game to try to do that. Had they beaten Nottingham Forest they would have gone above Liverpool, so that shows you how quickly things can change. "We have to make sure we’re ready for the challenge. In the Premier League, there is always someone under pressure. At the moment it’s Steven but he has the quality and experience and will come through I’m sure. So he has to make sure we’re good ourselves and with the greatest respect, not worry to much about Aston Villa and concentrate on ourselves.”
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On if he's happy there is no noise around him and Chelsea: “At the moment. I’m not naive and I know there will be times where there is. It’s why I don’t get too carried away when it’s positive and I don’t get too carried away when it’s not so positive. It’s part of the job.”
On how has life changed for you over the past five weeks: “No, not so much. It’s busier because of the double games and I’ve realised I can’t go out so much, I’m a bit more higher profile and my face is unfortunately too often on the television. It’s fine, I’m busy anyway. I’ve got no life I just concentrate on games and try to prepare for football matches. "I don’t like seeing myself on TV, I get sweaty palms and I’d rather go to the dentist to be honest. It is what it is. But nothing really, I’m just busy with this job and trying my best to help the team.”
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On if he's loving it at the moment: From the outside, the results are good. There are always things that can be improved, that is the nature of the job. But I can’t sit here and complain anything about the results we’ve had. It was a really surreal start with strange things happening in terms of the death of the Queen and games being called off, then the international break and the first game being in the international break. "So there were loads of things we had to get our heads around quickly but the players have been really receptive and open and honest. I think we are starting to build a nice relationship.”
On How worried he is that N’Golo Kante keeps getting injuries: “Historically, there are things that have happened which are a concern and we need to get the bottom of that. It’s a setback in the last stage of his rehab so again that’s worrying. But all we can do is get the right diagnosis, the right consultation, and then try to help him get back to full fitness and enjoying his football.”