Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has been ruled out of the club’s Premier League clash against West Brom on Saturday with a hamstring injury and is also considered likely to miss the crucial first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Porto next week.
Kante withdrew from the France squad as a result of a hamstring complaint following the country’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine last month, and subsequently returned to Chelsea for treatment.
But the 30-year-old has so far only recovered enough to train individually and will not be fit in time to face West Brom. He hasn’t been ruled out of the Porto game just yet, but Thomas Tuchel says it is "probably" the case that he will miss it.
Kante could also miss the subsequent Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on 10 April and Tuchel has earmarked the second leg against Porto three days after that as a more realistic return.
“With N’Golo, we will have to be patient,” Tuchel said on Friday, via ChelseaFC.com.
“Will he miss the Porto game? Yes, probably. He is doing individual training and tomorrow’s game comes too soon for him and so he can't be with the squad.
“After tomorrow’s game [against West Brom], we have just three days to prepare [for Porto]. He has a muscle injury, as we communicated with the national team, so my realistic approach is to think further ahead about Porto, maybe the second game against Porto he could be available for.”
Fortunately for Tuchel and Chelsea, Kante was the only player missing from full training on Friday, meaning that Tammy Abraham, Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi are all available.
“It's the best situation you can have as a manager. We can substitute players or replace players that are injured without a loss of quality,” Tuchel said of having plenty of options available.
“That is very good and it gives us a good feeling. Tomorrow we have Thiago available and everyone else in defence is fit. It's the same with the goalkeepers. It's very important to have this at this time of the season. We need everybody in top shape.”
Tuchel has also confirmed that Timo Werner, who has scored only once since his fellow countryman took over in January, will start the West Brom game.
“Timo will start tomorrow. Yesterday I sent him in from training because he wanted to do extra finishing with us. But I sent him in because it will happen, the goals will come,” Tuchel said.
“Of course, he needs to do something and the best thing to do is to work hard. Work hard against the ball, make runs, don't hesitate, be fearless, don't overthink it.”
Chelsea still remain unbeaten under Tuchel, who has been named Premier League manager of the month for March, and victory over the Baggies on Saturday will strengthen the club’s chance of finishing in the top four and securing Champions League football for next season.