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Cole Palmer returns to Chelsea training, Blues sweat on his fitness ahead of Villa showdown

Chelsea attacker Cole Palmer returned to training on Thursday, according to the Daily Mail, offering a major boost to the Blues ahead of their trip to Aston Villa on Saturday. 

Reece James and Levi Colwill also joined him in partial training although they have been out for longer and definitely cannot be fit for the Villa game.

The 21-year-old’s absence due to illness was keenly felt in the humiliating 5-0 defeat to Arsenal midweek.

Palmer is Chelsea’s top scorer this season with 20 Premier League goals. Also, his ability to progress the ball and create chances has been vital for the West Londoners. 

Ahead of the Arsenal clash, Pochettino had challenged his players to prove they weren’t overly reliant on Palmer, stating they weren’t “Cole Palmer Football Club.” 

However, without him, the Blues looked toothless in attack. Chelsea struggled to progress the ball into the final third and create clear-cut chances as Arsenal picked them apart.

With a crucial encounter against Villa looming, all eyes will be on Pochettino’s pre-match press conference on Friday, where he is expected to provide an update on Palmer’s fitness. 

The Argentine manager will hope the young attacker has recovered in time to spearhead Chelsea’s frontline as they aim to keep their European hopes alive.

With or without Palmer, Pochettino will be desperate for a win on Saturday when they travel to Villa Park. The former Paris Saint-Germain boss is walking a tightrope after a disappointing season.

Pochettino was handed a young and inexperienced squad but has struggled to galvanise them into a team. 

Chelsea have been horrid defensively, conceding 57 league goals already – their worst record in a 38-game PL season – and there are still six games to go.

Pochettino’s set-up has been criticised for exposing the team to counterattacks, leaving too much space for the players to cover.

Pochettino is fighting to end the season on a high and possibly keep his job beyond this summer.

A sixth-place finish is still possible, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough for him to remain in the Chelsea dugout next season.

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