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Chelsea’s Sterling not ready to face Dortmund, says Potter

premier league chelsea v fulham
Raheem Sterling took a knock to his knee in training last week, making him the eighth Chelsea player to be sidelined with injury

Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling is back in training but will not be ready for their Champions League last-16 first leg at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, coach Graham Potter said on Tuesday.

Sterling took a knock to his knee in training last week, making him the eighth Chelsea player to be sidelined with injury along with fellow forwards Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja and long-term absentees N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy.

“The other players coming back from injury, Raheem, Kante and Pulisic, they’ll just be working their way back at Cobham, (Chelsea’s training ground)” Potter told reporters on Tuesday.

He added that Wesley Fofana, Mateo Kovacic and Denis Zakaria were back after being out with injuries.

“All of the three are in the squad so that’s good. Like I said before, the previous game they were getting closer to minutes,” Potter said.

“The challenge for us is to build them up and to make sure they’re right from a gametime perspective but it’s good that Wesley, Mateo and Denis are with the group.”

Potter, who has been criticised by some Chelsea fans since replacing Champions League-winner Thomas Tuchel last September, has struggled to find a way to incorporate the club’s new signings with a host of players returning from injury.

Chelsea signed more than half a dozen players in the January transfer window, including British record capture Enzo Fernandez for more than $130 million, and Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Andrey Santos, David Fofana and Mykhailo Mudryk among others.

They spent more than $350 million in January alone while also bringing in Portugal international Joao Felix on loan.

“We’ve got the squad that we have. It’s a squad that we’re really excited about but, at the same time, we know there are challenges and work we have to do,” Potter said.

Chelsea have won their last four matches in the Champions League and are hoping to extend the streak against Dortmund who have won all five of their Bundesliga matches so far in 2023.

“Certainly from the break they (Dortmund) have had a fantastic run. They’re a really organised team that attack well, defend well and have got good individuals within there,” Potter said.

“It’s the knockout stage of the Champions League. The absolute pinnacle in terms of the game. It’s a great test playing against a fantastic club in front of 80,000 here, so a wonderful occasion.

“We’re all looking forward to the match, we all understand the challenge that awaits us but are really excited about it.”

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