By Jim van Wijk, PA
Graham Potter feels there is no point in making any excuses over the ongoing challenges the Chelsea squad face to get their Premier League campaign moving in the right direction again.
The Blues returned to action with victory over Bournemouth on Tuesday night, which ended a run of three successive defeats ahead of the World Cup break.
There was, however, more bad news on the injury front when defender Reece James was forced off during the second half with a setback to the knee problem which had ruled him out of England duty in Qatar.
The 23-year-old full-back is expected to face around another month on the sidelines.
Captain Cesar Azpilicueta came on to replace James, and could feature again at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.
Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic should be available again following World Cup duty, along with Morocco playmaker Hakim Ziyech.
Ben Chilwell, Wes Fofana and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all continue their own recovery along with midfielder N’Golo Kante while striker Armando Broja is a long-term absentee after suffering a serious knee injury just before the Premier League resumed.
Looking towards matchday! 👀 pic.twitter.com/N5KVYtVfYu
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 31, 2022
Potter, though, will just get on with the job in hand at the City Ground with whatever players he has available.
“I am not making excuses. I am just telling you want I think of the situation. We have to deal with it,” the Chelsea boss said.
“The break hasn’t been a positive one for us and I could have made lots of excuses had the result (against Bournemouth) not gone our way.
“We had four (senior) players for the first two weeks (of the World Cup), then players dripping back in and the break people think we have to work with the players isn’t there.
“But you can’t make those excuses, you just have to win – and we did (against Bournemouth) so that’s good.”
Potter continued: “Our job is to try to get as many people back as we can.
“It has been a real tough period, as challenging as there has been in my time as a coach.
“But we are Chelsea and people don’t want to hear those reasons or excuses. We have got to get on with it and try our best to find the answers.”
Denis Zakaria could retain his place in midfield against Forest following an impressive display on his Premier League debut.
Potter feels the Switzerland international, on loan from Juventus, deserved his opportunity.
“Whenever Denis has played, he has not let us down,” the Chelsea boss said.
“He played in the Champions League against Zagreb and scored, so he has shown his quality.
“I have said before, he has had to be patient because we have some good options in the midfield.
“It has to be remembered we didn’t lose for the first few games, so it was hard for him to get that opportunity.
“But he has remained professional, worked really hard and it is why he got his reward (against Bournemouth) with a decent performance and a contribution to a win.”