N’Golo Kante is part of the Chelsea squad that touched down in Spain on Monday afternoon ahead of the concluding game in our Champions League quarter-final tie with Porto, but whether the midfielder starts the game is in question.
That he was involved in the first leg last week, even as a substitute, was a bonus. Kante had felt hamstring pain playing for France on 24 March but though he missed Chelsea’s defeat by West Brom 10 days later, he has been available for the subsequent games, against Porto and Crystal Palace, and made substitute appearances in both.
‘I was unbelievably happy when he [Kante] told me he would travel with us last week to Sevilla, because I didn’t expect it,’ revealed Thomas Tuchel, backing speaking in the same city today.
‘The plan was that he arrives in the game against Crystal Palace, but he arrived before that which was amazing. He was confident enough to go on the pitch and he was strong enough to help us in the last 10 or 15 minutes with all his quality and intensity.’
That early return to availability did have some consequences for the 30-year-old, and Tuchel went on to explain.
‘The downside of this decision and this wonderful situation was that he lost a bit of sleep after the travel issues back from Sevilla. He lost some workload in training because he was on the bench and playing only a few minutes. The next day he suffered from travelling, he could not train like he normally would train so that was the downside and we decided again to bring him from the bench against Crystal Palace.
‘This is now a decision I will take tomorrow morning when I see him today in training and then when we reflect on the others for the team in central midfield.
‘Normally it is hard to imagine a game like this without NG, but at the same time we need to be absolutely careful about him and that we don’t take risks with his health and with his injury situation.
‘The question tomorrow is whether we want him to start or whether we want him to finish the game because there is also the possibility that it will go to 120 minutes. This is the question and honestly it is not answered yet, I will do this tomorrow morning.’