Reece James an injury doubt as Thomas Tuchel reveals Chelsea fitness news before Watford fixture
James has been outstanding this season for the Blues, cementing the right wing-back position with four goals and four assists in the league, but he is one of a number of players who could now miss out as the fixtures come thick and fast.
Manager Thomas Tuchel revealed on Tuesday that on top of existing injuries to Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, there are minor concerns over Jorginho, Timo Werner and James.
“We have some players in doubt, maybe we need a bit more time, more examinations,” Tuchel said. “Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner, they all trained today with us and there will be some last-minute decisions about the three.”
The only boost was Romelu Lukaku, who had no adverse reaction to his cameo against United and could now make his first start after several weeks out with an ankle injury. “He is ready to progress in his minutes,” Tuchel said.
Chilwell’s injury remains the most concerning, with the England left wing-back out until at least the New Year and possibly much longer, depending on the results of his diagnosis on a knee injury. Tuchel is wary that Chelsea could now become over-reliant on Marcos Alonso as their only natural player for the role, but believes he can find solutions in his multi-talented squad.
“When nobody is injured, when you have two specialists in one position, you can end up in very difficult decisions and it can be very hard for one of them,” Tuchel explained. “Suddenly if one has a longer injury, like Ben now, it can suddenly seem like we don’t have enough [options]!
“Does Marcos now have to play eight matches every three days? Is that possible? Maybe not. But we still have Callum [Hudson-Odoi] who can play on the left side as a wing-back and we have some other ideas that we can maybe try. But first of all, Marcos is the one in charge – he’s the specialist, he will prove how much he can bring to the team.”
Asked about midfielder Jorginho, who finished third at Monday’s Ballon d’Or ceremony after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the European Championship with Italy, Tuchel played down the importance of individual trophies.
“For me, [the Ballon d’Or is] not so much [motivation] because I have huge doubts about individual awards in this game because the game is very complex, it’s related to a lot of luck and it’s a team effort. Not one single player can win a match of football, it’s not possible.
“We don’t do what we do to have in the end individual awards but when you have a lot of nominees and get a prize like yesterday [Chelsea won the ‘best club’ award] it’s the proof that we showed what the club is all about and how the club is built.”