Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Christian Pulisic is "very, very close" to returning to action after suffering multiple setbacks in his return from the ankle injury he suffered during September international duty with the United States men's national team.
Pulisic will be the only Chelsea player unavailable to Tuchel for tomorrow's Champions League tie against Malmo, a match that will come 40 days after the Blues manager set a 10 day timescale on his player's return to action. The 23 year old suffered the ankle issue in USMNT's World Cup qualifier against Honduras in September and was unable to join up with Gregg Berhalter's side earlier this month.
Tuchel offered an optimistic assessment that Pulisic would be available soon but noted that the forward has come close to a return last week only to suffer further pain in his ankle that set him back on his road to recovery.
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"There's nothing to worry in terms of us hiding details or not telling you details," said Tuchel. "I cannot give you all the details because I'm not a doctor but in the moment he has had some setbacks from pain, not from major injuries or complications, it's simply the pain in the ankle that disturbs him.
"Once these players with these quick movements like Christian feel this pain and aren't free in their movement the recovery is not happening. You start all over again and you start all over again and you reach a certain point and the pain comes back and you have to do a little pause and you start all over again.
"Right now we are very, very close. He was already so close to come to team training last week and had a little setback, a little reaction by pain. Nothing serious but serious pain. From there on we go.
"He is very impatient, he does everything and we can see him suffer in every meeting and every time we meet him here in our training center he's really suffering. He wants to be on the pitch and help us. Everybody is doing their very best but unfortunately the injury takes its time."
Having also missed time after testing positive for COVID-19, Pulisic has made just two appearances for Chelsea this season, scoring in his only Premier League match, a win over Crystal Palace on the opening weekend. Equally though Tuchel is not short of attacking options in his squad it has been apparent in recent weeks that the Blues may be lacking someone with his ability to beat a man off the dribble as their attack struggles to hit top gear.
News of an imminent return will also be welcomed by Berhalter, whose side host Mexico in a crucial World Cup qualifier in 24 days' time.