Chelsea’s trip to Brentford in the Premier League’s Saturday teatime kick-off will come too early for the return of Christian Pulisic, while Toni Rudiger will also miss out after picking up an injury on international duty.
That update was provided by Thomas Tuchel, speaking via video link at his pre-match press conference from Cobham. The boss had just overseen our final training session prior to the west London derby and only his second with the bulk of the group following another busy fortnight of World Cup qualifiers around the globe.
Those national team commitments will deprive the Blues of Thiago Silva tomorrow, with the Brazilian in action overnight in South America and not expected to return to England until later on Friday.
‘He will be back in the afternoon, hopefully safe from this match in Brazil,’ Tuchel revealed. ‘We had our talk today about Brentford, we had our tactical training and he missed all that. He played 90 minutes, he has 12 hours of travelling so that maybe gives the answer about his availability.’
The German went on to discuss his frustrations with the format of this latest international break, during which there were three South American qualifiers for Brazil, the last of which has made it impossible for Thiago Silva to be involved for his club this weekend.
‘Of course I’m not happy but I knew it before so there’s nothing new,’ continued Tuchel. ‘I got used to a lot of stuff in the international breaks and this is how it is nowadays.
‘Are we coaches happy about it and the amount of games our players play for their countries? No, we are not. Does anybody ask us? No, also not and does it change anything? Also not so I don’t get down because of this.’
Even though he feels this international break was a little less demanding on his players in terms of match involvement, Tuchel insisted the workload of the top individuals continues to grow and will soon start to impact upon fitness, performance and the wider spectacle.
‘This break was a little bit better for us in terms of minutes and management from the players,’ he noted. ‘We also had the chance to give some of our players two days off to rest and to recharge the batteries so this one even felt a little bit better than the last one but the next one is on the horizon. We have now seven games to play and then the guys will go again and keep on playing.
‘I don’t like it. I think it’s too many games and too many competitions for the top players in the clubs. The game is for the players and for the spectators, and the spectators want to have the top players on the pitch. They want them fit, healthy, hungry and you cannot always provide it if you play so many games in so many different competitions.’
Rudiger missed Germany’s second game against North Macedonia with what their boss Hansi Flick described as a ‘back problem’ and the 28-year-old will remain sidelined for the Premier League return, leaving our defensive options limited, while Pulisic is also out after featuring just once for the Blues in the league this term.
‘Toni Rudiger is injured,’ said Tuchel. ‘He came back injured from his national team so is also not available. Christian Pulisic is still injured and not available.’
Tuchel also expects to be without Hakim Ziyech following illness, although Romelu Lukaku is in line to start against the Bees.
‘We have some doubts with Hakim Ziyech,’ he added. ‘He missed the last two training sessions with a headache and it seems that he’s not with the squad tomorrow.
‘Romelu is fine. He has been doing all the training sessions and he will play tomorrow.’