Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has finally opened up on the fitness of midfielder N’Golo Kante, who missed the 7-0 thrashing of Norwich City saying the midfielder missed the clash due to muscle fatigue.
The club revealed before the game that Kante had been complaining of a minor muscle problem, and while he was not exactly ‘injured’, Tuchel decided there was no point risking the Frenchman against the Premier League’s bottom side as he did not see it as a tough match and indeed it was a walk in the park for the early Premier League leaders.
The boss has now confirmed all that, reassuring the Blues fans that they can expect to see Kante – who is fans favorite at Stamford Bridge back in action almost immediately.
“The game was too early,” Tuchel said through the club’s official website. “He did the full training on Friday and after training, he said he feels his muscles a bit tight.
“He went to the physios for massages and for some treatment and he actually wanted to wait until Saturday in the morning to take the decision. I said no, it’s such an early game tomorrow, the possibility that it will change is not so high.
“I said ‘take your time, and it was simply one day too early. If the match would have been on Sunday he would have played. So he is fully available for Tuesday and for Newcastle.”
Fortunately, Chelsea did not miss Kante’s defensive and oppressive prowess whatsoever as they ran riot against the Canaries at the Bridge, with Mason Mount’s hat-trick stealing the show alongside goals from fellow Englishmen Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, and Ben Chilwell, who has four goals in four matches for club and country.
There’s a chance that Kante will return for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round tie against Southampton to be played at Stamford Bridge, but Tuchel may use that game to give some of his fringe players some extra minutes, with loanee Saul Niguez and Ross Barkley perhaps likely to get the nod instead.
However, should he remain healthy, Kante seems certain to feature when Chelsea travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United on Saturday.
The Blues will be without both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner for that game, while Christian Pulisic remains out, so Kai Havertz seems set to continue as a striker once again alongside Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount.