Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that both N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic are ruled out of tomorrow’s Champions League group stage opener with Zenit St Petersburg through injury.
The duo are closing in on a return, with Tuchel hoping to have Kante back for selection against Tottenham on Sunday, but our German head coach admitted that tomorrow’s Champions League tie will come too soon for the pair to be involved.
The boss revealed that Pulisic did not train with the squad today but did explain how next few days of work look like for French midfielder Kante.
‘Christian did not train with us today,’ Tuchel revealed at his pre-match press conference.
‘We said that we were looking for him to return after the international break and for him to have that period of 10 days of training and recovery before returning to the pitch. He’s still in a state of recovery and individual training, so he is not ready just yet.
‘N’Golo had two training sessions yesterday and trained again today, but the Champions League game comes a bit too early for him. We won’t take the risk with him now at this moment of the season.
‘We have decided to give him another load in training tomorrow, then he will have the day off with the rest of the group and then train with us all on Friday to be ready totally for Tottenham on Sunday.’
Tuchel is able to name 12 players on the bench for tomorrow’s European fixture against our Russian opponents, with the boss revealing that opportunities may be handed to the likes of Malang Sarr, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley who Thomas confirmed are all in the squad for tomorrow.
‘Malang is in the squad, Ruben is in the squad, Ross Barkley was in the squad against Aston Villa on Saturday and is in the squad again,’ added Tuchel.
‘We have a tight group, a small group but full of high-quality. For whatever reason they didn't find any other clubs but that doesn't matter, now they are in the group.
‘Once you are part of this group, you have to match the high expectations we have of ourselves and you have to do your duty to perform.
‘You have to be match-ready, they all are and they have put their personal situations to one side. No promises are made but they are ready to play and I’m happy for them to be part of this group.’