Confirmed Chelsea XI vs Middlesbrough as Mauricio Pochettino names £207million duo for Carabao Cup semi-final

Standing in the way of Chelsea and Wembley in the Carabao Cup is Championship side Middlesbrough.

Chelsea will hope that their trip to the Riverside this evening is the first step towards Wembley but they have to treat Michael Carrick's 12th-placed Championship side with the respect they deserve. 

Mauricio Pochettino knows hell will break loose if his side fails to at least book a spot in the final, so he's avoided the temptation to field a weakened team and named his big hitters for the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final match. 

Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Romeo Lavia, Benoit Badiashile, Lesley Ugochukwu, Trevoh Chalobah and Robert Sanchez all remain absent through injury, while Nicolas Jackson is at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Ben Chilwell and Carney Chukwuemeka have returned to training after injury but haven't travelled with the team as the Chelsea boss errs on the side of caution given the high number of players he's rushed back from injury and they've ended up breaking down again. 

Boro are the ultimate underdogs, but right there is the beauty of the Carabao Cup, a Championship side with little hope of upsetting the odds, yet they know that they can send their fans to Wembley if they can hold their breath and apply themselves properly in the next 180 minutes.

Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup to Liverpool in 2022 via a penalty shoot-out, the last time they won it though was in 2015 and on that day, Pochettino was manager for Spurs in the opposition dugout. 

This is an opportunity for the Argentinian manager to accelerate the Chelsea project and prove that he can win trophies on English soil. So with that in mind, here is the starting eleven he's put out.