Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Romelu Lukaku is ready to up his workload as he continues his return to action for Chelsea.
Tuchel was unable to call upon Lukaku for a few weeks due to an injury. It came at the same time as the absence of Timo Werner, which caused a dilemma for Tuchel up front. Now, though, his options are increasing again.
Lukaku came on as a substitute for Werner in the second half of Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United on Sunday. It wasn’t Tuchel’s exact plan but he said at the time he felt it was the right moment.
He will have to manage the Belgian’s workload carefully though to avoid any further setbacks.
Even so, the news on Lukaku is now positive. Tuchel confirmed ahead of Chelsea’s trip to face Watford on Wednesday that there were no ill effects of Lukaku’s return at the weekend.
He said at a press conference: “Romelu is easy. He came on and continues to train. No reaction from his ankle. He is ready to progress in minutes.”
There is not yet a full squad at Tuchel’s disposal, though. Ben Chilwell will be a long-term absentee, while he has two other players definitely missing the game and three doubts.
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Tuchel added: “For sure out is Chilly, Kova [Mateo Kovacic] and N’Golo [Kante]. We have some doubts of players, more time and examinations. Reece James, Jorgi[nho] and Timo.
“They all trained today but there will be some last-minute decisions.”
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Tuchel will have to utilise his squad depth to navigate the busy festive schedule that awaits. Of course, this will be his first time managing a Premier League club through the December month after his appointment in late January.
The demands on his players will be intense but the German tactician has no plans to change their approach.
He said: “It will be challenging but it will be challenging before. We don’t change our routine.
“We have tight communication with the medical and fitness department and we tried to predict the load, look at who is overloaded and underloaded, and from there we see what we need in the next games.
“We still take it step by step. If you look too far ahead you will see there are tough weeks coming. That is why we focus on the details, the next game, maybe on the next two games where we can rely on our predictions because we have fantastic support from everybody.
“It’s on the players to be strong in the games but to take recovery very seriously. We have to be very good in recovery and sleeping, taking the right food and supplements to help us recover.
“Our style is intense and needs to be to have a certain mentality and identity on the pitch. This is what we want. We are not scared to rotate, we just the whole squad.”