Ben Chilwell’s knee injury continues to be assessed by the Chelsea medical staff, with Thomas Tuchel indicating today that the defender could be sidelined for at least the next six weeks.

The Chelsea head coach was speaking at his customary pre-match press conference via video link from Cobham following our penultimate training session before Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United.

As well as Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic will also miss the Sunday afternoon game and N’Golo Kante is a major doubt, the latter having been forced off before the break in our midweek win against Juventus and the former having missed the past month.

‘Ben is out,’ stated the boss. ‘He has a partial injury of his ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] and the decision is to treat it conservatively.

‘The next six weeks will tell the story if he makes it and will be fully available, or if he needs surgery after that.’

Pressed on the likelihood of the England international requiring an operation in the new year, Tuchel added that the immediate focus was on managing the issue and the first signs were positive, with the player also remaining in good spirits.

‘I only care about the next six weeks,’ he said. ‘We are positive because the first reaction of his body is good so we hope it stays like this.

‘Everybody’s focus is on the next six weeks to get him back on the pitch. After all the examinations, it’s a very sensible decision so there is no pressure. The decision is made and the next weeks will give the direction.

‘There is never a good moment for big injuries or injuries in general but Ben is actually very positive at the moment. I just spoke to him a few minutes ago and his body has responded well to the first treatment and the injury so we have to focus on the positive things.’

Tuchel will also have a decision to make with his central midfield selection, ruling Kovacic out and indicating that Kante was unlikely to make it either.

‘Kova is still out for the game on Sunday,’ he added.

‘N’Golo twisted his knee a little bit [against Juventus]. He feels quite better since the game but it seems like he will be out for some days or one week maybe. We have a little hope but it would be almost a miracle if he makes it [to play Man United].’

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku has been back in team training over the past week but is unlikely to start against his former club.

‘If you ask the player, he will say he can start for sure!’ added Tuchel. ‘But there is a bit of a difference between being ready for training and ready for games, and also between being ready for games and for Premier League games.

‘This is another step. We only have three changes so the possibility that he starts is not very high because we cannot be sure what happens in between matches. We have to find the balance between giving minutes but also being competitive for 90 minutes with the guys who play.’

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