Potter hopeful of swift James return after 'really good' Chelsea win at AC Milan

Blues moved top of Champions League Group E with 2-0 win at San Siro but injury to right-back a concern

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Chelsea manager Graham Potter is hopeful Reece James' injury sustained against AC Milan on Tuesday isn't too serious after the Premier League club moved top of Champions League Group E with a 2-0 win at San Siro.

After an evenly-matched opening, Milan's hopes of gaining revenge from last week's 3-0 humbling at Stamford Bridge were dealt a significant setback when former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori was shown a straight red for a last-man challenge on Mason Mount in the penalty area.

Jorginho converted the subsequent penalty before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his third goal in as many games to guide Chelsea to victory.

The one sour note of a successful evening for the Blues was the injury to key player James, who trudged off the pitch midway through the second half with an apparent leg problem.

Allaying concerns, Potter is confident the England international could be back for Chelsea's next match, the Premier League trip to Aston Villa on Sunday, but conceded that further assessments need to be taken.

"We are hoping Reece will be OK [for the next game]," Potter said. "It is too early to give anything more than that."

Victory in Milan extended Potter's encouraging start since replacing Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea manager last month. The Englishman has now guided the Blues to four straight wins and a draw in his first five games, including three successive clean sheets.

Potter admitted that Chelsea's task was made easier by their numerical advantage at the San Siro but praised his players for getting the job done.

Reece James leaves the pitch injured during Chelsea's Champions League match against AC Milan. Getty

"To come here and win is not straightforward, as you can see from the start of the game," he said. "The crowd and the atmosphere were fantastic but overall we played well. The red card changes the complexion of the game but we still have make their 10 men count, which I think we did quite well.

"It is not straightforward playing against 10 men, especially here because any action can lead to a goal and then the crowd would be so into the game again, and it becomes really difficult. Credit to the players. They were really good."

Aubameyang's latest goalscoring contribution was another positive for Chelsea. The former Arsenal captain returned to London on transfer deadline day having found his opportunities at Barcelona limited due to the arrival of Robert Lewandowski.

AC Milan v Chelsea player ratings

Aubameyang's arrival also took place in the immediate aftermath of his house in Barcelona being robbed by a group of masked men, and he suffered an injured jaw in the traumatic ordeal. The 33-year-old Gabonese striker appears to be adapting quickly to life at Chelsea, though, and after the disastrous return of Romelu Lukaku last summer, is offering early signs that he could be the solution to the team's goalscoring problems.

Potter, however, believes there is still more to come from Aubameyang.

"We’ve not been doing anything special," he said. "He's just been building his fitness, he came from a difficult summer and the more game time he gets, the stronger he gets.

"The more we understand him the more he understands us, and then everybody can see his qualities. It looks like he's enjoying his football and scoring goals is important for him."

Updated: October 12, 2022, 5:54 AM
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