Tuchel names Chelsea player who will likely fill Mateo Kovacic void amid injury absence

Thomas Tuchel said Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who is “on his way” to cementing his spot in the Chelsea team, has a good chance to play against Newcastle United amid Mateo Kovacic’s injury.

Kovacic, as Tuchel confirmed on Friday, is out of the trip to Newcastle after picking up a hamstring injury in training.

The Croatia international’s injury is obviously very unfortunate considering the form he had been in.

So far this season, Kovacic has made five assists, more than any other Chelsea player.

N’Golo Kante’s return obviously helps a lot, but Tuchel also seemed confident in the alternative option; Loftus-Cheek.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

“I’m super happy with Ruben,” the German said ahead of Saturday’s visit to St James’ Park (via Chelsea’s official website).

“Obviously he deserves to play, and he did some pretty strong minutes and matches for us.

“I love that he took the chance and what he brought to the team.

“It’s a huge challenge to play regularly in central midfield for our club because there are guys like N’Golo, Jorgi, and Mateo who proved it over a longer time in this club.

“This cannot be turned completely upside down after two or three good matches but he’s on his way.

“Ruben did a huge step up from the start of the season until now and the route is not finished. He has to proceed.”

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Loftus-Cheek ideal Kovacic replacement for Chelsea

The 25-year-old has had two assists from two starts in the Premier League this season (four appearances in total), so he is arguably as productive as Kovacic in terms of chance creation.

But what really makes Loftus-Cheek an ideal player to fill Kovacic’s spot is that he offers a similar ability to drive with the ball.

Earlier this month, Tuchel himself highlighted how Loftus-Cheek’s dribbling can help the team beat opposition pressure in the midfield area, in particular.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.