Romelu Lukaku returns to Chelsea starting lineup against Spurs

Sean Walsh
Lukaku is back in the Chelsea fold
Lukaku is back in the Chelsea fold / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Romelu Lukaku has been reinstated to Chelsea's starting lineup for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham.

The Belgian striker was omitted from the Blues' matchday squad for their crunch clash with Liverpool at the weekend following the release of an unauthorised interview with Italian media.

Lukaku had stated that he was not totally happy with affairs at Chelsea and pined for a return to Inter, while he also admitted that he would have preferred a move to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich instead of returning to Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel revealed prior to that 2-2 draw that he dropped Lukaku from the squad as the fallout from the interview made it 'too noisy' in the Chelsea camp and he needed to protect the preparations for the game.

But after Lukaku held clear-the-air talks with Tuchel and released a public apology on Monday, the striker was reinstated to the squad and has been named in the starting lineup for the visit of Spurs.

The derby with Tottenham sees Lukaku come up against former Inter boss Antonio Conte, who is returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his sacking by Chelsea in 2018.

Conte revealed in his pre-match press conference that he had hoped Lukaku would play and his wish has been granted by Tuchel.

Other notable changes to the Chelsea lineup include Kepa Arrizabalaga coming in for AFCON-bound Edouard Mendy, Malang Sarr starting at centre-back, and Saul Niguez potentially playing at wing-back.