Christian Pulisic is dealing with a series of injury setbacks, and the clock is ticking before the U.S. men's national team's November showdown with Mexico in World Cup qualifying.
The midfielder is the only absentee from Chelsea's Champions League squad to face Malmö on Wednesday as he continues to recover from an ankle injury sustained in the USMNT's 4-1 win against Honduras on Sept. 9.
Originally, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said Pulisic was only supposed to miss 10 days, but the winger has now missed more than a month, including the latest round of World Cup qualifying last week.
"At the moment, he has some setbacks from pain, not from major injury or from complications," Tuchel said in his Tuesday press conference. "It is simply the pain in the ankle that disturbs him.
"Once these players with these quick movements like Christian, once they feel this pain and are not free in the movement, the recovery is not happening, so you start all over again. You start all over again and reach a certain point and then the pain comes back and you have to do a little pause and start all over again."
Despite the setbacks, Tuchel said the former Borussia Dortmund phenom is closing in on a return. Other than the preseason UEFA Super Cup, Pulisic has only made one appearance for Chelsea—he scored a goal in the league opener against Crystal Palace—after contracting COVID-19 in August.
"Right now, we are very, very close," Tuchel said. "He was already so close to come to team training last week and had a little setback and a little reaction, nothing serious, but serious pain. From there, on we go.
"He is very impatient, of course. He does everything and we can see him suffer in every meeting and every time we meet him here in our training center, he is really suffering. He wants to be on the pitch and help us. Everybody is doing their very best, but unfortunately, the injury takes its time."
All eyes will be on the USMNT star—and Gio Reyna, also recovering from an injury—ahead of the Mexico match on Nov. 12 in Cincinnati. The U.S. currently sits second in Concacaf World Cup qualifying behind Mexico and is coming off a 2-1 comeback victory over Costa Rica.
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