Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that three members of his squad remain out of contention to face Everton tomorrow, in addition to doubts over two more, as well as discussing Saul Niguez’s Chelsea future.
The Spanish midfielder joined the Blues on a year-long loan from Atletico Madrid last summer, with the club having an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.
That leaves his future uncertain beyond the end of the current campaign as he awaits news of the decision, after having to be patient for his opportunities in the team this season, making 21 appearances in total, 10 of them from the bench.
However, Tuchel feels now is not the time for big decisions and talks about the future, with him and his team keeping their focus firmly on finishing the current campaign as well as possible, while he has no worries about the uncertainty affecting the ever-professional Saul.
‘We will talk about it at the end of the season,’ said our head coach. ‘At the moment it’s a bit of a difficult situation for him personally, but what I like about him is that he still gives his input.
‘It is like this in team sports. Even if it does not make you happy, and I’m sure that he is not happy about the situation, he is still pushing and he is still positive and he takes care about the quality in training with the group that does not play so much, which means a lot to me and means a lot to the atmosphere in the dressing room and within the group that we stay competitive.’
The German underlined the importance of Saul’s attitude, feeling the way he continues to be a positive part of the squad even when things aren’t going his way shouldn’t be underestimated.
‘I don’t have a lot of good news for him when we talk about the line-up, but he needs to stay involved mentally and physically,' added the boss. 'This is what he does, although it’s not easy for him, and for this we are very grateful.
‘We also demand it, but it tells us that he's a real sportsman. It’s not the moment now to talk about it, we still have to fight for direct qualification for the Champions League and for the best possible outcome, and we have a cup final to play. So we’ll talk when it’s time.’
Tuchel also discussed the chances of five members of the squad who missed Thursday evening’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United returning to the team sheet for our next match, when we travel to Everton in the Premier League tomorrow.
Speaking on Thursday in the aftermath of our draw in Manchester, Tuchel confirmed that three injured players remain out of contention as they continue their recoveries, while two more are doubtful due to illness.
‘From the injured players, Ben Chilwell for sure will not play, of course,’ he explained. ‘And for Mateo Kovacic it’s too early, he has not been in team training so far, he has not come back. Callum Hudson-Odoi is the same as well.
‘Andreas Christensen is a maybe, let’s see after he was ill, and it is the same for Ross Barkley. We need to wait to see how they feel.’
Kovacic, Barkley and Christensen all returned to team training on Friday.