Thomas Tuchel revealed that his Chelsea injury list grew again last night as Ruben Loftus-Cheek had to withdraw from the Zenit St Petersburg game.

As quoted by The Fifth Stand following the Blues 3-3 Champions League draw in Russia, Tuchel added another player to the growing aches and pains in the squad.

Where was Ruben?

Loftus-Cheek was probably set to start yesterday’s frustrating European draw, due to the lack of central midfield options on display.

Chelsea Zenit
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

N’Golo Kante and Jorginho did not travel because of injury, whilst Mateo Kovacic is isolating after testing positive for covid.

It was therefore a slight surprise to see Ross Barkley and Reece James lining up alongside one other in the middle of the park.

Tuchel explained this slightly eye-raising decision after his team’s stuttering evening in St Petersburg.

“Unfortunately for many weeks we are without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, and now without Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek was out after the warm-up,” said the Blues boss.

“We lost four central midfield players so we had Reece in there for some physicality.”

Zenit Chelsea
Photo by Igor Russak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Problems mounting

Depending on the severity of Loftus-Cheek’s wounds, Chelsea could be walking into the Premier League tie with Leeds United without their primary quartet of midfielders.

A very worrying prospect indeed, especially if James and Barkley are asked to partner up once again.

Neither did awfully against Zenit, but they are simply not of Kovacic’s, Kante’s or Jorginho’s calibre.

Tuchel’s side also lose a chunk of their attacking impetus when their first-choice right wing-back is not in his regular station.

Barkley simply hasn’t played enough this season to build a solid rapport with those around him.

Fingers crossed at least one of Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho can recover in time for Saturday’s showdown at Stamford Bridge.

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