Thomas Tuchel says N’Golo Kante missed Chelsea’s victory over Crystal Palace due to an ankle injury but he expects the midfielder to return to training in midweek and be ready to take on Arsenal on Sunday.
Kante suffered the injury in the build-up to the UEFA Super Cup victory over Villarreal in Belfast but was able to play 60 minutes of Wednesday’s game before being replaced by Jorginho.
He undertook recovery work at Cobham the following day and started the training session held on Friday to prepare for the visit of Palace to Stamford Bridge.
However, Kante didn’t feel 100% and the decision was taken by Tuchel and Chelsea‘s medical team to leave him out of the matchday squad for the Blues’ Premier League opener, which they won 3-0 thanks to goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevoh Chalobah.
“N’Golo felt yesterday (Friday) discomfort in his ankle,” Tuchel explained after Chelsea’s victory over the Eagles yesterday.
“He felt it in the warm-up to the Super Cup match against Villarreal and he played a little bit with pain, overcame it. But yesterday he felt it again and we decided to take responsibility and take him out so as not to take any risks at the beginning of the season.
“N’Golo should be back in the middle of the week and be ready for Arsenal.”
Kante’s absence left Chelsea’s midfield short-staffed, something that was only further exacerbated by the omission of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from the matchday squad.
Tuchel confirmed that decision was taken out of his hands, as the midfielder was ruled out, having tested positive for Covid-19.
He said: “With Ruben the rumour is right; he had a positive test result on Thursday or Friday. He is in isolation and following the protocol.”
For those who played a significant portion of the win over Palace, today was about resting and recovering. For the remainder of the senior players, there was a friendly organised against Weymouth.
Chelsea defeated the non-league side 13-0 at Cobham, with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Thiago Silva, Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi all on the scoresheet.
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The first-team squad will have tomorrow off before returning for training on Tuesday to prepare to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium next weekend.
And there will be a player incorporated into the group: club-record signing Romelu Lukaku.
“We expect Romelu out of quarantine on Monday and on Tuesday he can join in team training,” Tuchel said yesterday afternoon.
“We will prepare him for Arsenal and hopefully he can be on the pitch.”