Thomas Tuchel ‘happy’ with Romelu Lukaku performance in positive Chelsea update on Cesar Azpilicueta

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel declared himself pleased with Romelu Lukaku’s return to the Chelsea team, having backed the Belgian forward to handle the “pressure and adversity” of his swift recall.

Lukaku was axed from Tuchel’s squad for Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw with Liverpool after an interview with Sky Italia in which he spoke of his frustration at a stop-start season so far at Stamford Bridge following his re-signing from Inter Milan in the summer.

However, after talks with the Blues boss on Monday, and having apologised both privately to his teammates and publicly to the club’s fans, the forward was restored to the starting XI at the first opportunity for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg win over Tottenham

“I’m happy with the performance, I liked it,” Tuchel said of Lukaku’s display in the 2-0 win. “He was strong, he was involved, he showed huge commitment in our defensive work which was important, and he was dangerous, always used his body well and was always involved in dangerous situations.

“I expected it because Romelu can handle pressure and adversity. He seemed to be relaxed after a decision was made and after we finished talks and he knew what was going on, I felt him relax enough to have a performance like this.”

Meanwhile, Tuchel confirmed that cramp forced captain Cesar Azpilicueta off late on, a diagnosis which, if confirmed, will come as a relief, after a positive Covid test for Thiago Silva added to Chelsea’s defensive injury crisis.

Tuchel did, however, lose Kai Havertz at half-time, the midfielder having hurt his hand while scoring the game’s opening goal and then soldiering on strapped up until the interval, when he was replaced by Timo Werner.

“Azpi says it is only cramp, not an injury, so that will be the good news,” Tuchel added. “Kai, the issue is with a finger, I think he broke, it looked horrible. He played through the pain but it was getting bigger with every movement and every touch from an opponent.”

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