Graham Potter set to be handed Wesley Fofana Champions League headache amid injury crisis


Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana could see his fine recent form rewarded with a call-up to the French national team. Didier Deschamps will unveil his first France squad of the year on Thursday afternoon, and RMC Sport report Fofana could be among a number of new faces in the side.

However, this is likely to create somewhat of a selection headache for Blues manager Graham Potter, whose defensive resources are already stretched to the limit. While Fofana wouldn’t miss any club action, his time away from west London could hurt his recovery from a long-term knee injury, with setbacks out of Chelsea’s control on international duty.

This would be particularly problematic in the upcoming Champions League quarter-finals. Potter’s defensive ranks are already without the injured Thiago Silva, while Benoît Badiashile was omitted from that particular squad.

This leaves Kalidou Koulibaly and Trevoh Chalobah , alongside Fofana, as the only natural centre-backs available to Potter, and the manager could face a worrying fortnight without the summer signing. Although Marc Cucurella showed his versatility in this position by filling in for Badiashile on the left-hand side of the back-three in the round-of-16 win against Borussia Dortmund.

Fofana has been monitored by the France national team staff for some time, having appeared for them on the youth stage. He is deemed as the likely replacement for former vice- captain Raphael Varane, who announced his retirement from international football last month.

Having suffered a difficult campaign for much of his first season at Stamford Bridge, Fofana has finally begun to show supporters why the club forked out a potential fee of £75million last summer. After sustaining a knee injury, which kept him sidelined for the best part of five months, Fofana returned to action in Chelsea’s defeat to Southampton last month.

Since then, he has started every match, predominantly in the newly-adopted back-three system, and his return has coincided with an upturn in form for Potter’s side. He helped the club earn three straight victories in a week by putting in impressive displays against Leeds United, former club Leicester City and Dortmund in the Champions League.

Although the 22-year-old has seven caps for France’s Under-21 team, he is yet to be involved in the senior setup. However, the French selectors reportedly rate him highly, with injuries likely the only reason he hasn’t been called up before. Fofana will face a battle to earn a starting berth, with both Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano likely to earn a shot at being Varane’s long-term successor after they both impressed at the 2022 Qatar World Cup .

Similarly, Arsenal’s William Saliba has impressed for the Premier League leaders this term, while Monaco’s Axel Disasi adds to Deschamps’ vast resources in this area. The Chelsea defender could be involved when France take on the Netherlands at the Stade de France on March 24, before the team kick-off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign in Ireland just three days later.

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