Chelsea manager Graham Potter insisted that Raheem Sterling is still an option for the right wing-back position despite his having to tweak his plan in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Reece James’ injury absence has left an obvious problem for the manager to answer.

Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seem to be the more obvious options as a replacement for James, but Potter surprisingly opted for Sterling at Villa Park.

His plan was to use Sterling wide when in possession and defend as a back four without the ball.

Aston Villa v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

“We tried to be back three in build-up and back four defensively with Raheem [Sterling as a wing-back],” the manager said in his post-match press conference (via Football London).

“I thought we started the game quite well in the first 15 minutes, but then we lost a bit of momentum, and they were able to put pressure on, pick up second balls and get behind us.

“We had to make a change at half-time I felt, and the boys did it well.

“Raheem can play high and wide in all those positions, but clearly the balance of the team is one that we have to look at and find the right solutions.”

It did not take long before Potter had to adjust in the first half, pushing Sterling to the front three while Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount filled in as a right wing-back and in midfield, respectively.

Azpilicueta came on after half-time, which allowed Loftus-Cheek to play in a more natural role, and it worked quite well in the end.

Still, James is expected to be out for eight weeks, and in the meantime, Potter needs a reliable replacement.

A rotation between Azpilicueta and Loftus-Cheek seems to be the safest option, although Potter clearly still thinks Sterling can play a hybrid wide role in this position.

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