Pochettino backs Jackson to hit the ground running at Chelsea

Nicolas Jackson

Pochettino backs Jackson to hit the ground running at Chelsea

Nicolas Jackson is ready to hit the ground running at Chelsea after swapping LaLiga for the Premier League, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

The pressure on the 22-year-old striker, who joined from Villarreal for £31million in June, to adapt quickly to English football has been increased by injury to fellow new signing Christopher Nkunku, who is now unlikely to play for the club before December.

The pair impressed in attack for Pochettino’s new-look side during the tour of the United States, raising hopes that the team’s struggles in front of goal last season had been fixed.

But injury to Nkunku – together with the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and David Fofana (on loan), unavailability of Armando Broja and a failure to resolve the future of Romelu Lukaku – has left Jackson as Pochettino’s only available striker for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool.

The manager though said he had seen enough from the player, who netted 13 times in 48 games for Villarreal last season, to be encouraged that he is ready to take on the mantle of a Premier League goal-scorer.

“He’s a young player but he has the quality to be here and score goals,” said Pochettino. “We’re enjoying the way we are working, he’s working really hard, the quality is there. You can see (from) some games (he has played), he has the quality.

“LaLiga is completely different the Premier League. It was good to play the Premier League Summer Series in America to test the Premier League, that was really good for us.

“I have no doubt he’s going to score goals and the adaptation is going to be good because it’s not only his quality, it’s also his character. He has great character, his personality is strong. I’m sure he’s going to be good here.

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“He’s so strong, he isn’t scared of (anything), he’s so brave, and you can see the quality in his feet. (He has) quality also in his physicality – he’s fast and he’s strong.”

Pochettino’s tenures at his previous two English clubs – Tottenham and Southampton – were characterised by the tight bond that he and long-time assistant Jesus Perez were able to forge with players and staff.

The relationship between Pochettino and Perez has been in evidence since the pair arrived at Stamford Bridge, with the assistant often joining his manager at media briefings and sharing in jokes with with the Argentinian, with whom he first worked more than a decade ago at Espanyol.

And Pochettino believes that, despite the turmoil that engulfed Chelsea last season, the building blocks are being put in place for that same spirit and togetherness to spread through the club this campaign.

“I believe it’s possible, yes of course,” he said. “We (Pochettino and Perez) need to show how we are and the players need to trust. For sure I think with time you can create very good bonds between the players and us.

“We are so happy in the way that we have progressed. It’s little steps but they are very important. You cannot make a big jump, you need to create this basis and structure and little steps from the beginning that is going to help after to evolve and develop what you want.

“Every (Premier League) season is stronger and stronger. It’s improving and always more difficult. But that’s good, because the challenge every season is bigger.”

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