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Mauricio Pochettino: Some Chelsea youngsters still learning to deal with pressure

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino admits some of the younger players in the squad are not coping well with the pressure of playing for the club.

The big-spending west London side have floundered in mid-table all season, with their summer overhaul of bringing in young talent from across Europe so far yet to bear fruit.

Chelsea had the chance to claim a trophy last month, but a number of missed opportunities cost them dear as they lost the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool after extra-time.

And Pochettino believes not all of the club's signings have settled in as well as star man Cole Palmer, who scored his 11th Premier League goal of the season during the Monday's 3-2 win over Newcastle.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's FA Cup quarter-final with Leicester on Sunday, Pochettino said: "One thing we cannot change is to give time to the players to get experience and be more mature.

"In the same time that you ask me about Cole Palmer, not all the players have the same process of settling in at the club or to perform.

"Yes, we are in a process that the main group, the main young players…of course they struggle a little bit to deal with the pressure to play for Chelsea.

"That is the thing we are, of course, aware of and we are focusing on trying to help them in all the areas.

"Because when you have this young squad, it's not only to help them in training, in the two hours maybe of that. We have spent a lot of time talking with the people that work around these guys, who are important too."

Chelsea brought in over a dozen new players last summer - as well as coach Pochettino - as they looked to build on a hugely disappointing 2022/23 campaign which saw them finish 12th in the league and suffer early exits from both domestic cup competitions.

One of the newcomers was Nicolas Jackson, who joined the Blues from Villarreal for a reported £29.8 million, and, after a difficult start in England, he took his league tally for the season to nine goals with the opener against Newcastle.

That is one less than former Chelsea star Didier Drogba managed in his first year at Stamford Bridge and Pochettino believes the 22-year-old Senegal international is a player on the rise.

The Chelsea boss said: "You all are now seeing how he is improving. The most difficult thing was to support him when it was tough. I told you I really believe in him.

"I believe he is going to be very successful here.

"He has the quality and the capacity. Now he is doing much better but still needs to improve a lot. The numbers are similar to Drogba in his first season.

"That maybe gives the fans more belief in him and to be a little more patient with him, but always it depends on the circumstances.

"Now I hope people can start to understand he has the condition to be very good."

Chelsea's struggles this season sees them down in 11th spot in the table, but with seventh-placed West Ham only four points ahead and having played a game more, there is still a possibility of securing European football for next season.

That may be the Europa Conference League, but Pochettino says Chelsea - Champions League winners in 2012 and 2021 - will respect any competition they are in.

He said: "We need to accept the reality and if we arrive at the end of the season and we qualify for the Conference League, we need to accept and respect the competition and go to try to win the competition.

"We need to accept the reality. I am not going to say nothing, it is an international competition."

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