'Back for the weekend': Tuchel hints Chelsea star could play against Newcastle after missing out last night

Thomas Tuchel remained positive about the condition of Cesar Azpilicueta after the Chelsea captain sat out last night’s Carabao Cup win over Southampton.

Azpilicueta and a whole host of Stamford Bridge stars missed Tuesday’s penalty shootout success against the Saints.

Chelsea managed to overcome the coastal club without their skipper, N’Golo Kante, Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, all absent through varying injuries.

Kai Havertz put the Blues in front on the stroke of half-time but were pegged back almost instantly after the restart by Che Adams.

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The clock ticked all the way up to 90 minutes without a breakthrough, so spot-kicks would be the deciding factor.

Kepa Arrizbalaga came up trumps once again from 12 yards, saving two attempts from the visitors to ensure his side progressed to the next round.

Injury update

Yet, Tuchel’s men have little time to savour the victory, as their attentions must quickly turn to facing Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday.

The German coach will be wanting a positive update on the fitness of his wounded troop ahead of the St James’ Park Visit, especially the leader of the dressing room.   

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“We hope Azpi is back for the weekend,” said the Blues boss.

“He had a shoulder injury yesterday in training when he fell on it. It’s very painful but he’s Azpi and he’s a tough guy.”

Tuchel also gave updates on Loftus-Cheek and Christensen, saying: “Ruben felt after training some pain in his hip joint. Hopefully we can handle it for Saturday.

“Andreas needed to recover from tooth surgery and should be back training on Thursday if there are no complications.”

Eyes on the prize

Alongside Azpilicueta and Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy were all left out of yesterday’s cup drama with Southampton.

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Permitted they are available, expect all of them to feature at Newcastle this weekend.

Chelsea cannot take any risks in terms of team selection, as the title race remains as tight as ever.

With Liverpool and Manchester City expected to beat Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace respectively, the onus is on the league leaders to keep pace.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.