Graham Potter has admitted the break for the World Cup has come at the right time after his Chelsea team lost for the fourth time in five matches against Newcastle.
Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at St James’ Park to record their third straight Premier League defeat and leave them eight points adrift of the top four heading into the break.
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Asked afterwards whether the pause in domestic football was coming at the right time for his beleaguered team, Potter said: “We have to see it that way.
“We can’t do anything about it [the break] and we have to use it as a positive. “We’ll have a couple of players back [from injury] and we can use the time to refocus, reflect and get ready for the second half of the season.
“There’s a lot of football to play, a lot of learning that’s happened over the last eight weeks and the break, we’ll have to use it as positively as we can.”
Joe Willock’s goal midway through the second half was the difference between the two teams, although Chelsea only really threatened once when Conor Gallagher had a shot well saved by Nick Pope.
“It’s not nice to not get results but I have to look at why that is and look at the situation we’ve had to deal with,” added Potter.
“It hasn’t been straightforward at all. We’ve had a lot of games and a few injuries to key players which has destabilised us so we’ve had a period that’s been incredibly challenging. As much as you can’t accept it, you have to deal with it.
“Credit to Newcastle, they’re playing well and they’re in a really good moment. We made too many unforced errors and it was a tough game for us.”
Newcastle, meanwhile, are up to third in the table after a fifth straight league victory.
They are just two points behind champions Manchester City but Eddie Howe is still keen to downplay the possibility of qualifying for Europe and, potentially, next season’s Champions League.
“It was a very good performance and we’re delighted to win,” said Howe.
“We just want to get as many points as quickly as we can. The players deserve huge credit, it was up there with our best displays this season.
“I don’t really know about that [qualifying for Europe]. We haven’t thought about any permutation or consequences of the games, we’ve just tried to win them and I think that’s the best way for us to attack the second half of the season as well.”
Afterwards, Howe said that striker Callum Wilson will be fine to join England’s World Cup squad despite only being fit enough for a place on the bench against Chelsea because of illness while Potter confirmed that Cesar Azpilicueta, who has been named in Spain’s squad, had to be substituted at half-time after suffering an injury.