Christian Pulisic’s recovery from the ankle injury he suffered in September has endured some setbacks, which is why the U.S. men’s national team star has yet to return to action for Chelsea some six weeks after first being sidelined.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Tuesday that Pulisic still isn’t ready to return to action, and noted that Pulisic was the only Chelsea player unavailable for the upcoming Champions League clash with Malmo.
“I cannot give you all of the details because I am not a doctor, but at the moment (Pulisic) has had some setbacks from pain,” Tuchel told reporters on Tuesday. “Not from a major injury or complications. It is simply the pain in the ankle that disturbs him.
“Once these players with quick movements like Christian, once they feel this pain and they are not free in the movement the recovery is not happening,” Tuchel said. “You start all over again, and you start all over again, and you reach a certain point and the pain comes back. And you have to do a little pause and start all over again.”
Pulisic was injured in the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying win over Honduras on September 10, enduring a painful challenge from Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa that left him limping around the field until he was finally forced off in the eventual 4-1 USA win.
Six weeks later, Pulisic has yet to return to action for Chelsea, and the injury forced him to miss the USMNT’s October World Cup qualifiers. The current uncertainty surrounding Pulisic’s recovery has now put into question whether he will be available for the November qualifiers, including the showdown with Mexico on November 12.
Pulisic’s absence, along with the continued absence of Gio Reyna, who suffered his own injury during the September World Cup qualifiers, has opened the door for some other wing options to step up for the USMNT, led by Brenden Aaronson, who has established himself as the top option on the wing in case Pulisic and Reyna aren’t available in November. Tim Weah and Paul Arriola have also staked claims for playing time, while Konrad De La Fuente and Matthew Hoppe are other possibilities in the wide positions in Gregg Berhalter’s preferred 4-3-3 system.
It remains unclear just how much longer Pulisic will need to recover, and Tuchel preached patience as both Chelsea and the USMNT await the return of the American star.
“Right now we are very, very close,” Tuchel said of Pulisic’s recovery. “He was so close to come to team training last week and had a little setback and reaction, by pain. Nothing serious. From there on we go.
“He is very impatient, of course, and he does everything and we can see him suffer in every meeting and every time we meet him here he is really suffering and he wants to be on the pitch and help us,” Tuchel added. “Everybody is doing his very best. Unfortunately the injury takes its time.”