Chelsea ace withdraws from international duty with knee injury

  • Malo Gusto withdraws from France Under-21 squad
  • January signing understood to be carrying knee ligament injury
  • The 20-year-old, signed from Lyon in the January transfer window, is chief Reece James deputy

Malo Gusto (centre) has picked up a knee injury
Malo Gusto (centre) has picked up a knee injury / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Chelsea right-back Malo Gusto has been forced to withdraw from international duty this month after suffering a knee injury.

Although he was capped by the senior France side for the first time last month following a call-up from Didier Deschamps, Gusto had dropped back down to the Under-21 squad.

The junior Bleus are scheduled to face Austria in a European Championship qualifier, followed by a friendly against South Korea. But 20-year-old Gusto will not be taking part in either.

A minor lateral knee ligament problem found on a scan has seen the youngster pull out, and Chelsea will hope that his recovery is swift as a busy period of domestic games over Christmas nears.

Gusto officially signed with the club last January, remaining with former side Lyon on loan until summer. He linked up with his new team in pre-season and started five of the first six Premier League games of the season in the injury absence of Reece James.

But having been sent off against Aston Villa in late September and serving a three-game ban, combined with the return of club captain James to fitness, the Frenchman has largely been a fringe player and substitute for much of the last two months.

An improving Chelsea have nine games to play before the end of 2023, starting with a trip to Newcastle United to round off November after the international break.

The month of December then sees Premier League clashes with Brighton, Manchester United, Everton, Sheffield United, Wolves, Crystal Palace and Luton, as well as a second meeting in quick succession with Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.