Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Leicester City, Thomas Tuchel has revealed that only one player will be absent through injury as another returns to action, as well as discussing his own potential touchline ban.
Heading into tomorrow's match at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel gave an update on the injury situation in his squad, confirming it will still be a while until former Leicester player N'Golo Kante can return to the team, with the Frenchman's unique talents making him a big loss for the team.
'With N'Golo we are talking about weeks, we are talking about four weeks plus,' said Tuchel. 'He is our key player normally that gives something to our team that no other player in the world can give to any other team. So that makes him a key player and if your key player is out it is a situation you don’t like and you have to deal with but it has a huge influence, of course.'
However, there was better news regarding fellow midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who looks set to return from a knee problem this weekend, even if he is only ready for a role from the bench.
'Mateo is back in the group. N’Golo is the only one who did not train through this week, so everybody is back in training. Kova is back in the group and ready to play some 20 minutes.
'We miss him also as a personality and his experience and his quality of course, but it’s maybe 20 minutes at the moment.
'It was his first training week without reaction in the knee, so we cannot rush things, otherwise we will just sabotage our own plans with him. We need him long-term but it is good to have him back and have him as an option from the bench.'
Our head coach was also asked whether he would be present in the dug-out at the Bridge for the game against Leicester, as he faces the prospect of a one-game touchline ban following his red card at the end of our last home match, the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
He revealed that he has responded to the charge, meaning the details are not yet confirmed, but he expects to be absent from the bench on Saturday. Furthermore, he claimed he accepted the reasons for his ban, although the inconsistencies in the aftermath of that game are a little less easy to take.
'I don’t think I will be on the touchline but it’s not 100 per cent sure yet,' he explained. 'I think we can do the same as always because I can arrive at the stadium and be in the changing room, but not on the sideline.
'We have responded to the charge and we are waiting for the answer today, but I think I cannot be on the sideline as it seems, but I can be in the dressing room at half-time. So the players will still be prepared and it is not an excuse.
'I think there are two sides to it. The one side to it is that I got a red card and I behaved in a way which is not appropriate and which I regret, but it was out of passion. I don’t think it was too aggressive and it was out of passion.
'I can accept that if I get a red card during a match, if this is the decision, then I have a touchline ban and then I’m fined. This is one side to it and I don’t dispute it and I can accept it.
'What is hard to accept is the context, that I don’t think I started the aggression. It started earlier and I don’t think I was the only person involved and we both got a red card. A player pulled another player’s hair two minutes earlier, he can play on, he’s not banned and for a firm handshake at the end of the game one coach is banned. This is very hard to accept, but I have to accept it. But to put it into context I absolutely cannot understand it.'