Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Chelsea will be without two of their regular starters upon their return to action after the international break.
Chelsea are back in action on Saturday when they visit Leicester City for the lunchtime kick-off. After heading into the international break with a disappointing draw against Burnley, the target will be to get back to winning ways.
Leicester will be tricky hosts, but table-topping Chelsea will be keen to emphasise how strong they are. They will have to do so, though, without two men who would normally feature on Tuchel’s ideal team sheet.
The manager said at his pre-match press conference that midfielder Mateo Kovacic and striker Romelu Lukaku are unavailable.
“I can tell you that Mateo and Romelu are still out for tomorrow,” Tuchel confirmed. “Romelu is close to team training so hopefully will join the squad on Sunday. He is pushing hard to come back ASAP.
“Mateo it will take another days until he is ready and will miss more matches.”
There is more promising news, though, regarding Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Thiago Silva and Mason Mount.
“Timo in team training since yesterday,” Tuchel said. “We will see as we have another training in two hours. Maybe he can make the squad or the bench.
“Pulisic feels fine. Thiago will be training. He did not play [for Brazil] but he has some travel in his body and time difference. I am confident. Mason is back in training.”
The key absentee, then, will be club-record signing Lukaku. Chelsea had to navigate their final few fixtures before the break without a recognised striker in the absence of the Belgian and Werner.
It will be a major boost whenever Lukaku is able to return, but Tuchel could not yet confirm whether that would be for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Juventus.
“We will talk with the doctors, physios and the player,” the German coach said. “If something is to be decided then it will be on Monday evening.”
Tuchel sends Havertz message
One player who Chelsea could call upon to fill the void up front is Kai Havertz. The attacking midfielder has stepped into more advanced territory when Lukaku and Werner have been missing.
Havertz too has not had a clean bill of health this month, but played and scored for Germany on Sunday so should be fine.
“He got an injury against Burnley, he played the second match and is in a good mindset and is well,” Tuchel said. “If nothing happens in training, he is ready to go.”
The German has scored in consecutive matches for club and country and Tuchel is confident his compatriot will keep delivering.
“He’s only 22,” Tuchel reminded. “If he fights for it in the future like he does now then there will be goals and assists under his belt. I am sure. I have no doubt.”