LONDON (Reuters) – Graham Potter has had plenty of time to settle into his new office at Chelsea’s Cobham training HQ but will finally take charge of his first Premier League game on Saturday.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion manager Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel on Sept. 8 but Chelsea have played only once since, a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg in the Champions League.
Chelsea travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday and Potter says they are eager to get their league campaign going again as they look to make up ground on the pacesetters.
“We’ve used the time to get to know people in an environment without games but at the same time we’re itching to go, itching to play,” Potter, whose team are seventh, told reporters.
“That’s really where you find out about everything and you learn a lot and make an impression. Couldn’t really control anything in terms of how things have panned out with the cancellations. International break is what it is, then we just have to make the most of it.”
Chelsea’s game against Liverpool was called off after the death of Queen Elizabeth and since then Potter lost the majority of his squad as they reported for international duty.
“It’s part of the job, part of the challenge. We can do some thinking while they’re away, do some analysis and watch games,” he said of the situation.
Time will be of the essence in the period leading up to the World Cup with life about to get a lot more hectic for Potter as Chelsea juggle a packed schedule.
Rather than see that as a negative, Potter said it is something he is relishing.
“We have to be smart with how we work, smart with how we use our time,” he said.
“In a world with lots of challenges, I don’t think they want to hear me complaining about less time on the pitch.
“It’s been well documented the amount of games we have which is great because we can see the players, lots of competition, everybody is ready.”
While at Brighton, Palace was regarded as a derby and he is expecting a lively reception at Selhurst Park where he has not enjoyed much success in the past.
“I like the atmosphere there, it’s a proper football stadium, the supporters get behind the team and make it difficult for the away side whoever it is,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to that challenge, but the boys are ready and itching to play. Can’t wait.”
Potter confirmed that Chelsea will still be without midfielder N’Golo Kante and keeper Edouard Mendy.
“They’re absolutely fine in terms of coming through their rehab stages. NG has just been on the grass with the team but not full training, Eddie is a bit further on but hasn’t had enough to be involved at the weekend really,” he said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)