Although players have been returning to action after their Covid isolation, with Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi doing so especially prominently with their match-winning performances at Aston Villa, Thomas Tuchel does not feel comfortable yet with thinking his squad are over the worst of the current outbreak globally.

As he assesses the situation ahead of Wednesday night's home meeting with Brighton, our head coach is also counting available midfielders.‘We have infected people who have three vaccinations, we have infected players without vaccination, so we have everything,’ Tuchel points out.

‘If you just speak about central midfield, let's assume that maybe N’Golo is out [of the Brighton game], maybe Ruben is still out, so one [positive] test in central midfield is enough for the thing to collapse again, because then Kova will play again 90 minutes but from where, from out of nothing, and you risk injuries.‘This is what we do at the moment. I cannot see how we are out of Covid threat at the moment as it does not feel like it.’

Chelsea midfield injury latest

Tuchel had been especially pleased when all three of his main central midfielders at the start of the season, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, were able to board the bus to Aston Villa for the Boxing Day game, reunited in the squad for their first time in many weeks, but sadly the trio’s full fitness did not last long‘We waited for that and in the end we take N’Golo Kante out in the first match where they are together,’ laments the boss. Kante came off in the 63rd minute with pain in the same place as the knee injury suffered against Juventus in November.‘Ruben Loftus-Cheek is injured and suffers from Covid,’ Tuchel continues, ‘so for the Brighton game I need to talk to the doctors and to the physios and to the fitness department, and then we will try to find solutions.’