Thomas Tuchel has voiced his frustration towards the Premier League's refusal to postpone Chelsea's meeting with Wolves at the weekend, which he claims forced him to be 'irresponsible' with the returning N'Golo Kante.
Kante picked up a knee injury towards the end of November which saw him miss six games in all competitions, but with Chelsea facing a Covid-19 outbreak and the Premier League declining to rearrange the game, Tuchel opted to field Kante for the full 90 minutes on his return from injury.
In the build-up to Wednesday's Carabao Cup tie with Brentford, Tuchel admitted his use of Kante was dangerous and revealed that he will keep the Frenchman out of action in midweek.
"What we did with N'Golo Kante, 90 minutes, was close to being irresponsible, to let him play for 90 minutes against Wolverhampton" he confessed in a press conference. "Will he be involved in the squad against Brentford? No. Simply no.
"Would it be possible if it was the last game of the season? Yes, but it's not. We cannot do this, and I will not do it. We will now give him time to recover and prepare for the Aston Villa match. This is the situation.
"To have a team with 13 or 14 players for one match [against Wolves], this is a problem but it's not a big problem. We can do it. We can fight.
"But from the match, we have Trevoh Chalobah injured, he's a big doubt. We have N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic involved, which was taking a huge, huge risk, and now we're paying for this. They cannot do five matches in two weeks, or three matches in one week, it's simply impossible.
"So the problem will increase, the situation will increase, but we cannot let players suffer because other players are not there. It's simply impossible. We have to protect the health of our players, and that's why we brought in the academy. It's no secret and we're thinking about playing with them."
Tuchel has called up a number of Chelsea's academy players to make up the numbers ahead of Wednesday's contest. He was criticised for not doing so against Wolves, but the boss insisted involving another group of players was another unnecessary risk as some in that group have tested positive.
"[The academy players] trained with us yesterday and today," Tuchel continued. "We made them come for two training sessions because it is necessary.
"When we made them come, we detected that Lewis Baker is positive for Covid, so another player out. We're taking the risk of bringing players in from the academy who have it."
On general team news, Tuchel added: "Nobody is back except for Jorginho because he had a negative test. It was a wrong positive obviously. He is back in training.
"Andreas Christensen is very doubtful from injury, and the same for Trevoh Chalobah."