By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Tuchel has hailed Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga for showing “courage” to make amends after their training-ground bust-up.
Chelsea boss Tuchel confirmed that Germany defender Rudiger and Spain goalkeeper Kepa clashed in training – but insisted that the players have solved the spat and the matter is finished.
The Blues were thumped 5-2 by West Brom on Saturday, paying a hefty price for Thiago Silva’s red card and eventually slipping out of the Premier League’s top four.
They now face Porto in Seville in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg, with Tuchel adamant the Cobham training-ground incident is completely finished.
“It was nothing to do with the defeat, it was just an incident in training; it got heated up between Toni and Kepa,” said Tuchel.
“So we calmed the situation down immediately. I don’t want to play it down with anything artificial, these are things we don’t want to accept; it was unusual but they can happen.
“They are all competitors and want to win training matches. We needed to interfere in the situation, so that was serious.
“But the way the guys handled the situation, that was impressive and showed a lot of courage.
“The reaction was not okay, but the reaction to it, how the guys handled the situation, especially Toni and Kepa, was amazing and showed how much respect they have for each other.
“They cleared the air immediately. This was the most important so there was nothing left the day after. We spoke about the issue and then it was solved.
“This was the main part. They sorted it out straight after training in a very honest, humble and very direct way. That showed me they have very good character.
“Toni sorted it out directly, and it was a strong and brave thing to do. So I am happy with the way they dealt with it.”
Chelsea will have Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante fit after hamstring issues for Wednesday’s first-leg last-eight clash with Porto.
Tuchel confirmed Tammy Abraham will also be in the squad, though Kante is unlikely to start after his latest muscle complaint.
“Christian, N’Golo and Tammy, all three will be in the squad, they are fit enough to be in the squad and that’s good news,” said Tuchel.
“Christian went out before any serious injury could happen on Saturday.
“Tammy is in the squad, and N’Golo just did his last test and will be on the bench. He feels very comfortable; comfortable enough to be on the bench.”