Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has suggested 19-year-old academy right-back Ola Aina could make his first-team debut in the Premier League game against Aston Villa on Saturday 17 October after confirming Branislav Ivanovic is out due to injury. The Serbia international is reportedly expected to miss at least three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during the 2-0 European Championship qualifying win over Albania.
Ivanovic has been one of Chelsea's most scrutinised players during a poor start to the season, where the Blues have conceded 17 goals in eight Premier League games. However, he has started all the games due to the lack of a proper replacement for the veteran defender.
Mourinho has the option of deploying Cesar Azpilicueta in his original role on the right side of the defence to make space for summer signing Baba Rahman. However, just before the international break, the Portuguese boss ruled that out after claiming the Ghana international is yet to adapt to the Premier League pace.
It looked like Ivanovic's injury was going to force Mourinho to reconsider his plans ahead of the Aston Villa game. However, the Portuguese boss has claimed he may use Aina instead, or the versatile Ramires or Kurt Zouma.
"We have only Ivanovic's injury and Courtois recovering, everybody else is available," Mourinho said in the press conference ahead of the game against Aston Villa.
"I have four solutions: I have Azpilicueta, I have the adaptation of Zouma or Ramires and I have Ola Aina, an 18-year-old who has never played a Premier League game but he's a boy with lots of potential. He's also an option. It depends on matches, opponents, the moment, but we have solutions."
The Chelsea manager, meanwhile, has also lavished praise on Ruben Loftus-Cheek while suggesting the 19-year-old midfielder could make his first Premier League start of the campaign. He said: "Ruben has been with us since January, working with us every day, having the opportunity to play some matches, having an evolution physically, mentally, tactically. I think he's going to be a really top player. He's ready."