Chelsea boss Graham Potter has been left with yet another headache in the heart of the Blues midfield tonight after Cobham Academy product Conor Gallagher was removed from the action against Thomas Frank’s Brentford early in the first half.
The 22-year-old Epsom native had finally broken into the senior setup at Stamford Bridge this season and was beginning to increase his profile under his new manager but lasted just sixteen minutes before Croatian international Mateo Kovačić replaced him on the pitch at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Tonight marked Gallagher’s fourth-straight (second start) appearance for Chelsea in the Premier League while he also made recent cameo’s in each of the Blues’ wins over AC Milan in the Champions League as his fortunes seemed to be on the uptick in west London after the long-term absence of France star N’Golo Kanté was confirmed, with the 31-year-old set to be laid up in drydock for four months.
Any potential absence for Gallagher strips down the central options under Potter to the bare minimum, with the Blues manager forced to juggle Jorginho, Mateo Kovačić, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as the only remaining senior midfield assets at the time of writing should the England youth international be faced with time away from first-team duties.
Much like the situation with Kanté, this could once again throw on-loan midfielder Denis Zakaria into the spotlight after the Swiss international has failed to make a single appearance since his arrival from Juventus in the summer window, with the former Borussia Mönchengladbach standout set for crunch talks with Potter and Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly this week surrounding his immediate future in the English capital.
Former Aston Villa starlet and summer signing Carney Chukwuemeka could also be gifted a chance to show his worth after his ~£16m arrival from Villa Park after receiving just four minutes of action despite impressing internally for the club.
Realistically, this could further force Chelsea to dip into the winter market properly for a midfielder, or even call up Italian starlet Cesare Casadei from the youth pipeline after his arrival from Inter Milan this summer.