Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel provided an update on Antonio Rudiger’s injury and how the centre-back might be able to return for Wednesday’s second-leg clash against Real Madrid.
The 28-year-old defender has, deservedly, been a regular starter under the new manager and his back three system.
His aggressive play style, which is complemented by his strength and pace, is one of the reasons why the likes as Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso have had so much freedom to attack on the left flank.
Unfortunately, the Germany international will not be available for the derby against Fulham, as Tuchel confirmed on Friday.
However, Tuchel is still hopeful that Rudiger can return for the important return leg against Real Madrid, albeit potentially with a protective mask.
“He has a little bone injury, on the side of the face [due to] the collision at the very end of the game [v Real Madrid],” the manager told Chelsea TV.
“[He] was a bit unlucky to go out with an injury after that match.
“It [was] a huge chance that would have given him a pause anyway [if he was not injured] because for him it was very, very intense in the last week.
“Hopefully, he can play on Wednesday [after] having a bit of time to breathe, recover and be back against Real Madrid.
“Maybe [he’d have] to wear a mask to protect his face.”
The fact that Tuchel seems to be willing to risk playing not-fully-fit Rudiger speaks volumes about the importance of the centre-back for the team.
Hopefully, it is not a very serious injury that could hinder his performance given that the former Roma defender has played a key role in winning aerial duels.
Obviously, Tuchel still has Kurt Zouma — who is arguably better in the air, but not as quick– as another option.