Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea: Mauricio Pochettino says ‘tough’ squad decisions must be made

Chelsea new signing Jackson, training with the team for the first time (Video)

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino says he must make tough decisions as he aims to reduce his “massive squad” after a pre-season draw with Newcastle.

The Blues, who took 29 players to the United States, played out a 1-1 draw in front of more than 70,000 in Atlanta.

Miguel Almiron cancelled out Chelsea summer signing Nicolas Jackson’s 12th-minute opener.

But Pochettino said he wanted to reduce the squad before their Premier League opener against Liverpool on 13 August.

He added that morale could be affected if their were numerous players in the squad not getting regular game time.

“At the moment the dynamic is very good, really good guys and they are sharing the time together,” Pochettino said.

“It is difficult because sometimes in every game three, four, five players cannot play and that is difficult because the mood is difficult.

“It is about creating a squad with good balance and people who have the opportunity to play and can compete for their place.

“That is a big job and challenge for us in the transfer window to build a good relationship and good balance. Then, if players are not happy because they believe they are not going to play, we are going to find a solution with the club and fix the situation.

“What we cannot have is a massive squad, players not be involved and then it’s going to create a mess in the squad. Maybe less is more and more is less, it is not mathematic. That is why I need to make clear we don’t need a big squad.

“We need 22, 23, 24 players with some younger and that’s it. I am so sorry because maybe the decision will be tough but we need to build a good and a balanced team who want to compete for things.”

Chelsea had an inflated squad last season after spending £600m over the previous two transfer windows.

Since being in the United States, defenders Marc Cucurella and Reece James have spoken about the negative effect that had on the players.

“Players that will be here next season need to be happy,” Pochettino said.

“If they believe they need to be in the starting 11 and they are not going to accept being on the bench because of the coach – Chelsea pay me to choose 11 players – it is better they talk from now.

“We need to stop thinking ‘I come here to play’. No, ‘I come here to help the club to achieve what we want and then I need to convince the coaching staff that I deserve to play’.

“That is why always it is important to have the right players, the right balance and then accept what is going on.”

In Atlanta, the Blues took 12th-minute lead against Newcastle through summer signing Jackson.

Ian Maatsen, who returned from his loan at Burnley where he helped them to win the Championship title last season, played in the striker#, who finished calmly past Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle drew level just before half time when Miguel Almiron, playing in the home stadium of Atlanta United the team he left to join Newcastle, curled the ball into the far corner with an excellent finish past Kepa after Cucurella missed his interception.

Ben Chilwell almost snatched a win for Chelsea in added time but his shot from the edge of the area was superbly saved by Nick Pope.

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