Christian Pulisic is finally healthy again after spending two months on the sideline with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard announced Friday that Pulisic would be included in the Blues’ squad for the first time this season on Saturday, when the London club hosts Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
Pulisic was injured Aug. 1 after scoring Chelsea’s only goal in a 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Premier League rival Arsenal. The 22-year-old American attacker appeared in 32 games across all competitive leagues for Lampard last term, his first in England following four years with German titan Borussia Dortmund.
He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists in 2019-20, and was Chelsea’s best player after the Prem resumed in June following a three-month shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lampard says @cpulisic_10 is in the squad for tomorrow’s game but won’t start as his recovery from injury continues to be managed. Hakim Ziyech is getting closer but isn’t ready to play just yet. #CHECRY— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 2, 2020
During his pre-match news conference Friday, Lampard said that while Pulisic would dress for the game against Palace, he would not start “as his recovery from injury continues to be managed.” With Pulisic in need of match fitness, though, a cameo off the substitutes’ bench is a near certainty.
But with the ninth-place Blues off to a 1-1-1 start in the Premier League, his team needs Pulisic back in the lineup as soon as possible. After Saturday’s tilt, the Blues’ next two league games are at home to Southampton and then away to Manchester United, where they lost 4-0 last season in Pulisic’s Prem debut.
On Thursday, Chelsea was drawn into a UEFA Champions League group with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. The club kicks off Europe’s top club competition later this month.
Friday’s news is also a positive development for the United States men’s national team. Pulisic has not played for the USMNT in a year, but would be expected to participate in planned friendly matches in Europe next month if healthy. The U.S. is hoping to finalize a pair of exhibitions in the U.K., with Wales and New Zealand the rumored opponents.
The U.S. was scheduled to visit Wales in March, but that match was canceled amid the health crisis.