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Chelsea are weighing up the calculated “gamble” of pitching Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante into Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Tottenham.
Boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Silva and Kante have completed their Covid-19 isolation but the influential Blues duo must still test negative again to return to training.
Brazil defender Silva and France midfielder Kante missed the 2-0 first-leg win over Spurs and Saturday’s 5-1 FA Cup third-round canter past Chesterfield after positive Covid tests.
Chelsea remain hopeful that both players could feature at Spurs, but manager Tuchel admitted that would still harbour a level of risk.
Asked if Silva and Kante would be ready to play so soon after isolation, Tuchel replied: “I don’t know actually, I have to wait if they are in training this afternoon and then let’s see how they respond to the training.
“It’s a gamble, if we do it it’s a gamble and I’m not sure if we do it and how much of a responsibility we can take there.
“But we have to do it step by step, I’m not in the moment even sure if they come to training.
“If they come to training, we have to see the reaction and then decide then.
“They are out of isolation, but they have to have cardiac tests, and test negative, and of course Covid tests. But there are also further protocols to follow before you can bring them back to training.”
Chelsea will head to Spurs with Kepa Arrizabalaga again poised to deputise in goal, with Edouard Mendy on Senegal duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Kepa has steadily rebuilt his Stamford Bridge situation from low points under Maurizio Sarri and struggles for form under Frank Lampard.
While Kepa continues to understudy Mendy, Tuchel has been consistently impressed with the 27-year-old Spaniard’s attitude and application.
“I’ve never experienced Kepa as nervous, never; not one single day,” said Tuchel.
“I never experienced him jealous. I never experienced him being unhappy for his colleague.
“Of course, Mendy is his big competition in goal but I never experienced him jealous or nervous.
“The good thing is that there was a very genuine trust once we needed him to play for us and once we let him play.
“I felt the same from him that he was very calm and focused. This is what he does every single day.
“I have the feeling that he felt he doesn’t need to show it over 90 minutes that he is capable. We trust him and he is capable.
“It is not easy in his position because there’s not a lot of changes in the goalkeeping position. We have him and we are so happy to have him.
“This is maybe the difference. There’s no extra sentence or speech needed for him from me.
“There’s no special stuff, it is genuine trust and we are just happy that he can show it because he will be ready to show it.”