Thomas Tuchel claims Chelsea star Ruben Loftus-Cheek picked up injury just before Zenit tie
The Blues entered the game against the Russian champions with a selection headache due to the number of injuries in the past two weeks. The midfield, in particular, has been completely whitewashed by several different issues.
Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were unavailable through injury, while Mateo Kovacic contracted the Covid-19 disease. The latter tested positive a day before the UCL clash, and it remains to be seen when the trio returns to action.
Loftus-Cheek was deputizing for them in the past couple of weeks but Tuchel revealed before the game that the 25-year-old too picked up a knock during the warm-up.
“Unfortunately, for many weeks, we are without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic. And now without Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek was out after the warm-up.”
Doomed midfield line
This injury to the English international poses a serious problem to Tuchel. Although the extent of the knock is unknown, it completely wipes every player out of our central midfield options. Saul Niguez remains the only orthodox replacement, and he was tested out in the left-wing back role on Wednesday.
Reece James was playing in the centre, alongside Ross Barkley. This pair could easily be starting again on the weekend to face Leeds United, due to the number of concerns in the centre of the pitch.
Tuchel would also be wary of playing Loftus-Cheek as he would not want to aggravate his injury. Thus, this leaves very few options, and it is the worst possible news for any title contender at this stage of the season.
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Unless the injured quartet returns soon, Marina Granovskaia must start thinking about adding reinforcements in January. Alternatively, we could also recall Billy Gilmour, who joined Norwich City on a loan deal in the summer or Conor Gallagher. But not much can be said about those avenues unless there is something definitive that the club states.
Regardless, we need to find proper midfielders to deputise in these areas, and it remains to be seen which pairing is fielded against the Peacocks on Saturday.
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