For all that’s gone right for Chelsea this season, one thing has majorly gone against them.
The club’s medical doctors have certainly earned their salary over the past few months.
Almost all of the first-team squad have visited the treatment table at least once since August.
Christian Pulisic, Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Reece James, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech, Mateo Kovacic… the list goes on.
Now, the Blues must add another two names to their catalogue of walking wounded.
Kante and Chilwell on crutches
Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante both suffered injuries in the mid-week Champions League win over Juventus.
Kante’s twisted knee was overshadowed by the damage induced to Chilwell’s anterior cruciate ligament damage.
The pair will almost certainly miss this Sunday’s Premier League contest with Manchester United.
For Chilwell, he is facing the prospect of being out until at least the New Year and maybe beyond if the defender needs surgery on his ACL.
There is never an ideal occasion to lose two crucial squad members, but this particular timing is extremely unfortunate.
Aside from the upcoming United clash, Thomas Tuchel already has Mateo Kovacic out through a hamstring issue.
Kai Havertz is recovering from a thigh strain, whilst Romelu Lukaku has only just returned from a twisted ankle.
On a more positive note, Mason Mount, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic are back from their respective wounds.
But this cannot mask the fact Tuchel will be without his primary left wing-back and central midfielder for the foreseeable future.
A damming statement that needs rectifying.
Salvation for Saul?
Marcos Alonso should reclaim his spot on the left, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic as other alternatives.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has proven to be an able debutant in the middle, a case Ross Barkley can also cling to.
Yet, there is a player who could tick both boxes for the Blues.
Step forward Saul Niguez, a man who needs any opportunity he can get his hands on.
Naturally a central midfielder, the Spaniard was used at wing-back during his Atletico Madrid days.
Of course, the latter position would be less desirable, but based on the 26-year-old’s current situation, he cannot afford to be picky.
Saul has around seven months to persuade Chelsea to sign him permanently from Atletico.
After nine underwhelming appearances – six of those as a substitute – his future at Stamford Bridge looks pretty bleak right now.
Unless he can earn a run in the side as a replacement for either Chilwell or Kante.
A wildcard option yes, but a risk Tuchel might just have to take.