Thomas Tuchel hopes to have striking duo back after international break

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Thomas Tuchel is hoping to have Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku back from injury after the international break – but the Chelsea boss has revealed Mateo Kovacic is the latest of his players to be sidelined.

The Blues sit top of the Premier League ahead of their trip to Newcastle on Saturday and also advanced into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.

After such an impressive start to the campaign, losing Werner to a hamstring issue and Lukaku through an ankle injury has given Tuchel food for thought.

Romelu Lukaku is sidelined
Romelu Lukaku is sidelined (Adam Davy/PA)

They were certainly not missed in the 7-0 thrashing of Norwich last weekend and would have likely been rested for the penalty shoot-out win over Southampton three days later.

But having the pair available as soon as possible can only help Chelsea’s ambitions this season and Tuchel has confirmed both should be in contention after the November international fixtures.

“I am not a friend of deadlines and putting pressure on expectations,” Tuchel said.

“But I can tell you that, realistically, both of them have a new target and that is after the national break, that’s what we are aiming for and what they are aiming for.

“We have some better news than ahead of the Southampton game. Timo and Romelu are still out because of their injuries, Christian Pulisic did join the last two training sessions but it is still too early given the time that he missed.”

The positive news surrounding Werner and Lukaku has been tainted by the loss of another of Chelsea’s key men.

Croatia international midfielder Kovacic faces a spell on the sidelines after Tuchel revealed the 27-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in training this week.

“Very sad news but he injured himself in the last bit of training yesterday, a hamstring injury and will be out for some weeks actually,” he added.

“He will be out for the next week for sure and then comes the international week. So a minimum of these weeks and then hopefully after the international break he can be back.

“He was doing a bit too much in training so that is maybe my fault but it maybe describes Mateo as you can call Mateo at three o’clock and call him for tactical training, for defensive training, for set-piece training or just call him and he will be there, smiling. Happy to do what is needed to do.”

Mateo Kovacic has enjoyed a fine start to the season
Mateo Kovacic has enjoyed a fine start to the season (Adam Davy/PA)

Kovacic has enjoyed a fine personal start to the season and boasts the most assists, key passes and tackles won from a strong Chelsea side.

“He is such a fantastic guy, such a fantastic team player,” added Tuchel.

“I was a huge fan of him when he played for Real Madrid and I remember El Clasicos I watched with him and could feel there was such a big, big potential when I met him and the guy has such a big heart for football and a passion for training. It is a pure joy to be his coach.”

Newcastle United caretaker manager Graeme Jones will take charge against Newcastle.
Newcastle United caretaker manager Graeme Jones will take charge against Newcastle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Newcastle, still fresh from their recent takeover, will be looking to build on last weekend’s draw at Crystal Palace with caretaker boss Graeme Jones in charge.

“I cannot predict it but of course, things have changed for them and maybe in the dressing room too, the belief of the city, the belief in supporters too,” Tuchel said of the challenge of facing Newcastle.

“We expect a tough game, this is not a surprise as they are in the Premier League and coming to a very emotional and big club. We need to be on our best level tomorrow to get three points.”

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