Ahead of yesterday’s game against Everton, Thomas Tuchel had to report that four of his players were fresh Covid cases, ruling three of them out of the match. Today as attention turns towards Sunday’s visit to Wolverhampton, he has better news.
Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi were the players withdrawn from the matchday squad midweek, with the injured Ben Chilwell also having tested positive. They joined Mateo Kovacic who was coming to the end of his isolation period.Speaking on Friday afternoon, Tuchel had this to say on the Covid test situation:‘No more positive results at the moment, but the lottery starts again tomorrow.‘We're happy at the moment that Kai Havertz has more than one negative result so he was back in training. Let's see.‘Nobody can enter the training crowd without a negative test. We left Kai out [of the Everton game] because he felt unwell. We thought there was a high possibility that he might be positive and did a PCR which was not even needed, in my information, for the match. He was negative on a lateral flow test but we left him out of the squad and had nobody else on the bench left.
‘You can never be sure, tomorrow everything can be different and we have to go on from there. Two o'clock is training, after that we sit in the bus and go to Wolverhampton.‘Once you have players out for Covid you have them out for 10 days and 10 days in December means a minimum of three matches. This creates some obstacles to overcome.’Included with those obstacles are some further injury doubts, although Kovacic did train for the first time today.‘We have again Jorginho a doubt for Sunday because he's in pain,’ Tuchel revealed. ‘We have Ruben Loftus-Cheek a doubt because he's in pain. I don’t know if it is possible for them to travel with us tomorrow and play on Sunday. So maybe we start with N’Golo and Mateo? Would that be fair [on them]? No. Would that be possible? I don't know. But maybe we do it.
‘We need to find the balance now because we put everything on Jorginho’s shoulders and Ruben got injured yesterday. So let's see. Maybe we are forced to do the crazy stuff that we would normally not do. But what's normal, we miss key players and need to find solutions.’Our head coach was asked about the threshold needed to call off a Premier League fixture at the moment for coronavirus reasons and whether there needs to be more transparency on that.‘If they [the Premier League] want to they can,’ he responded. ‘It's not in my hands. Clarity is always good and transparency is always good in every subject. In this I know the rules now. I just read them and instantly forgot them because there are many of them - what happens if and when, does this need to happen? Stuff like that. There are rules and that's all I can say.’
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has said he fears for the integrity of the competition given all the postponements.‘He has a point, but everybody else who says we should still continue has also a point,’ decided Tuchel.‘There is not one answer to all these questions that are asked in society and to professional football right now. That's why I don't have the feeling that I should go out with one proper opinion and make myself believe that I'm right on this. The situation is very, very complex and safety and health is always in first place.‘We are very privileged that we still can work and be tested all the time, but I can understand the point. It may be a better moment to play against Chelsea with four positive Covid tests. I see both points.‘I'm sure there are rules why games are postponed. I cannot believe that teams get for the same amount of Covid cases protection and the postponed game. If you postpone one match for Covid, my personal opinion is it must be three matches postponed because the players need to be 10 days out now.‘But if you cancel three games you end up maybe with another problem so I can understand the decision to protect as many games as possible.‘I also have the feeling of the privilege to play and I will not go down this road of making excuses or blaming or whatever, I simply don't want to go there.’