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European spot will make Chelsea's season, Pochettino says

LONDON : If Chelsea finish in a European qualifying spot it will not only make their season but would give the club hope of improving in the next campaign, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Tuesday.

Chelsea need to win Wednesday's game at Brighton & Hove Albion to get closer to a top-six Premier League finish.

The Blues are level with sixth-placed Newcastle United on 57 points but trail on goal difference. Newcastle visit eighth-placed Manchester United, who have 54 points, in Wednesday's later kick off in the battle for European qualification.

Injuries and the inconsistent form of Chelsea's young team were blamed as the twice Champions League winners languished in mid-table but Pochettino's big-money squad have shown potential in recent weeks, quickly climbing the standings.

"The team is doing well, in the second part of the season - in the last 26 or 27 games," Pochettino told reporters. "If we can compete well in the last two games then there is a possibility to get into Europe, which would be amazing for us.

"If we are able to finish well and get into Europe, for sure we can start the next season with hope to be in a better position than we were in this season."

After captain Reece James' return from injury in their last game, the Blues are looking forward to another injury boost as Pochettino confirmed midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka and defender Ben Chilwell have returned to training.

"We need to assess if they will be part of the squad for tomorrow, but if not tomorrow then the weekend," he added, with Chelsea hosting Bournemouth in their final game on Sunday.

Looking back at his first season in charge, Pochettino did not want to focus on negatives. "I don't want to talk anymore (about the age and lack of experience in

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