Mauricio Pochettino refused to blame the Soldier Field pitch for the knee injury picked up by Christopher Nkunku in Chelsea’s final pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago.
Nkunku sustained the injury in a heavy collision with Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels in the penalty area early in the first half, and limped off the field to be replaced by Mykhailo Mudryk after just 22 minutes.
The poor state of the playing surface at Soldier Field — which hosted an Ed Sheeran concert on Saturday — was an issue throughout the game, contributing to ball bobbles and poor touches from players on both teams, but after the match Pochettino insisted Nkunku’s injury was simply unfortunate.
“The doctors are checking him,” Pochettino said of Nkunku, who sat on the Chelsea bench with ice wrapped around his left knee until half-time and did not re-emerge after the interval.
“Hopefully it is not a big issue but when he fell in the action maybe it was a penalty. He had the chance to score. He feels something in his knee but hopefully it is not a big issue and he can be quick with the team. Now we need a few days to assess him and until we get back to London it is difficult to know.
“I didn’t see the action but it not about complaining. Always we take some risks because the pitch is not perfect because they are using it for different sports and that is sometimes the risk of the tour, yes.
“I think it was a bit unlucky in the situation but we cannot complain about the pitch and to blame the pitch for why he suffered the injury. For me it was bad luck.”
Chelsea fell behind in the second half when Marius Wolf poked in from close range after Samuel Bamba’s shot had been deflected, but teenage striker Mason Burstow scored a looping header in the final seconds to equalise and ensure Pochettino’s young team finished their pre-season tour of the U.S. unbeaten.
“I think we played a brilliant game, it was an exciting game against a very good team like Dortmund. I think we deserved to win but it’s not about the result, it’s about the feelings and performance and I think when we scored with Mason at the end it was a relief.
“To go back to the feeling, to lose the game was unfair. I think in the end it’s to build something and the feeling after five games on the tour are good. Now we need to keep working and evolving our way to play and yes, be ready to start the (Premier League) competition.”
(Photo: Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images)