Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has provided an update on the state of his squad as he continues to contend with Covid-19 cases and injuries.
The Blues host Brighton on Wednesday night having emerged from a torrid run of form with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Chelsea had failed to have their previous match – the 0-0 draw at Wolves – called off due to a number of positive Covid-19 cases among the playing staff and coaches. However, they did not meet the Premier League‘s threshold for unavailable players and the game went ahead.
With the games continuing to come thick and fast in the festive period and both coronavirus and injuries continuing to disrupt preparations, Tuchel admitted he is unsure of the state of his squad ahead of facing the Seagulls at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the German said: “We have infected people who have three vaccinations, we have infected players without vaccination, so we have everything.
“If you just speak about central midfield, let’s assume that maybe N’Golo [Kanté] is out [of the Brighton game], maybe Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] 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.”
He added: “Ruben Loftus-Cheek is injured and suffers from Covid, 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.”
N’Golo Kanté was forced off against Villa having aggravated the knee injury that sidelined him since late November. However, he was able to train ahead of facing Brighton, as was Kai Havertz, who returned a negative Covid-19 test following a period of isolation having not played since 11 December.
Tuchel continued: “I can absolutely not understand zero per cent why we are the only league that plays through the winter and we are the only league with three substitutes in a period of heavy Covid threat and heavy Covid situations.
“I’m heavily concerned and I don’t understand why we have only three substitutes. That makes absolutely no sense but it’s a situation so it is worrying that we struggle and we have injuries and we have players who suffered from Covid, and we have no time to build them up.”