Graham Potter has confirmed that Mykhailo Mudryk was suffering from a cold during Chelsea’s draw against Fulham on Friday, with the Ukrainian withdrawn after only 45 minutes.
The 22-year-old gave a superb display in his first appearance for the London club, a 35-minute cameo against Liverpool last month.
But he was less effective in his full debut against Fulham and was hauled off at the break, with Noni Madueke coming on in his place.
Potter has now confirmed that the decision was not tactical and Mudryk had been feeling the effects of an illness which impacted his display, while he is building fitness after Shakhtar’s winter break.
Speaking to beIN Sports after the match, he said of Mudryk’s poor first half & substitution: ‘It’s always that way sometimes with the young players.
‘He also had a really heavy cold as well. He’s suffered a little bit with that this week. ‘So he was just feeling a little heavy-legged at half-time. We didn’t want to take any risks with him.
‘We had some substitutes, I thought Noni Madueke came on and did really well as well, so that’s a positive for us.’
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In another interview with Sky Sports, Potter added: ‘We didn’t want to take a chance with him.
‘He’s still in a process where we’re building up his minutes because of the break that he’s been on in Ukraine. So that was the decision there.’
Gary Neville was on commentary duty for the game and questioned the decision to sub off Mudryk, though he suspects the change could become a regular sight at Chelsea given the depth of their squad.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: ‘They’ve got so many options. Mudryk is £80m odd, he’s had a pretty poor first half let’s be clear, but he’s off!
‘I suppose what happens when you’ve got those riches on the bench you may just get a little more itchy about getting your substitutes on quicker. Or maybe Mudryk has actually got an injury we don’t know yet.
‘It’s interesting. Would he hook him at half-time? An £80m signing? I can’t think he would, but if he has it’s a brave one. It certainly won’t help the confidence of the new signing.’
After hearing about Mudryk’s illness, Neville added: ‘Mudryk wasn’t right the whole first half. I wondered at half-time, I said it would be a bit harsh for him to come off as an £80m odd signing if there wasn’t something wrong with him because you’re trying to put belief into players.
‘But he wasn’t right, they had no rhythm in their performance at all Chelsea.’