By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Tuchel wants to “protect” the feel-good factor in Chelsea’s squad and avoid any January signings, provided the Blues’ injury issues clear up.
The Blues boss wants to safeguard the bonds built among his Stamford Bridge stars, with Tuchel’s talented squad described as “like a family” this week by Mason Mount.
N’Golo Kante and Trevoh Chalobah will be fit enough to make the match squad for Thursday’s Premier League clash with Everton, while Mateo Kovacic and Ben Chilwell will require longer recoveries.
NG 🤝 Trev. pic.twitter.com/Hgoie2LDZa
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 14, 2021
Kovacic will come out of isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 later this week, but having not featured since October due to a hamstring strain will need time to reach match fitness.
Chilwell still hopes to avoid surgery on damaged knee ligaments, with a January return remaining on the table at this point.
“We are not in talks right now that we bring in players,” said Tuchel.
“Because first of all we trust our squad, and hope that we can bring all our players back and be in full strength.
“Then we have a strong squad and a good atmosphere to protect. This is where we are right now.
“N’Golo will be back on the bench tomorrow, he did the last two training sessions.
“Trevoh Chalobah will also be back in the squad, he did the last two training sessions as well. So it’s Mateo Kovacic and Ben Chilwell out at the moment.
“Mateo is released on Friday, maybe. Then we need to see about him.
“He has then been out for seven to eight weeks overall with injury and Covid.
“It is then one thing to have N’Golo back on the bench and to have Mateo back at the end of the week.
“Whether it is really N’Golo or Mateo at their best, I doubt it. It will take a while, but it will be a good day for us when both of them are back.”
Chelsea’s midfield injury glut will be eased significantly by Kante’s return from knee trouble, with Jorginho continuing to play through a back concern.
Croatia star Kovacic has been a miss too due to his hamstring issue and now Covid, but Tuchel insisted Chelsea have no regrets in allowing Conor Gallagher to go on loan to Crystal Palace.
Gallagher has starred with the Eagles this term, but Tuchel remains convinced that has always been the right course of action.
“I said many times how much we like Conor and how well he’s doing, and nothing has changed – we saw his goals, we see his performances all the time,” said Tuchel.
“There’s absolutely no regret because maybe it seems like it was the perfect decision for him and we discussed mainly for him what the best option was in the summer.
“You cannot take the circumstances from now about the decision from July, it simply is not possible.
“We did what we did and we are very happy with it, because obviously it works out for Conor.
“We need to work our issues out, which is that we are a bit unlucky in injuries in the centre, and we’re suffering from it. But this has nothing to do with Conor.”