Ben Chilwell has become the latest England player to suffer a World Cup scare that Chelsea manager Graham Potter fears could squeeze left-back from Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Just a week before Southgate will appoint his 26-man England side to travel to Qatar, Chilwell injured his hamstring during the last minute of injury time in Chelsea’s rubber win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Chilwell was visibly upset at being forced to drop out so close to the World Cup and is the latest scare for England manager Southgate, who is already sweating on Chelsea left-back teammate Reece James and duo of the Manchester City Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips.
Southgate has planned to select Manchester United’s Chilwell and Luke Shaw as specialist left-backs ahead of England’s first World Cup game against Iran on 21 November.
Chelsea will look into Chilwell on Thursday but the 25-year-old, who missed six months last season after undergoing knee surgery, and his club fear the worst.
Asked if the World Cup should be a concern for Chilwell, Potter replied, “I think you should say that, yes. Obviously I don’t want to add more, but when a player stops like he did and heard it, then it’s never good.
“I spoke to him briefly. He heard something as he walked away, so he is disappointed and upset.
“We have to scan it but it’s not good at the moment. It is a blow to see him stop like that. It’s not a great sight, so fingers crossed when we scan it isn’t that bad. It may not be that bad and at the moment we have to cross our fingers, but we are clearly disappointed ”.
After his return from last season’s anterior cruciate ligament injury that kept him out for six months, Chelsea have carefully managed Chilwell’s fitness.
“Since he didn’t play on the weekend, it was thought he could play tonight and have enough time to recover for the weekend,” Potter said. “So we tried to manage it, she never played the three games in a week. He had to have the buildup which was good for him, which is what makes him so frustrating. It’s a hard blow for us and a blow for him. “
Chilwell had made it clear how important the prospect of playing in the World Cup had been to him during his recovery in the summer, saying, “I have dreamed of playing in a World Cup literally since I can remember and know it’s just around the corner. it’s more motivation than you know for me to try and seal it [left-back] individuate.
“Not just for myself but for my family, everything, especially after the European Championships in what was a difficult time for me. If I could go to the World Cup as number one left-back, have a good tournament and hopefully as a team and we will do really well and go all the way, that would be great. It would be the highlight not only of my career but of my life, so over the next four to five months I’ll do everything I can to try and make sure it’s my place. “
Potter confirmed that Chelsea scorer Denis Zakaria was not injured, but goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who missed Dinamo’s game, will not be fit for Sunday’s visit to Arsenal and was on crutches as a precaution.