Thomas Tuchel insists he will not risk starting N’Golo Kante in tomorrow’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Porto unless the French midfielder proves in training this evening he physically and mentally ready for the game.
Kante suffered a hamstring injury while on international duty with France and was absent as the Blues were beaten 5-2 by West Bromwich Albion a little more than a week ago.
The 30-year-old made a surprise return to the matchday squad for the first leg against Porto but only featured in the final ten minutes of the game.
He was again on the substitutes’ bench for the victory against Crystal Palace on Saturday but did feature in the last half-hour of the contest.
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Given the importance of tomorrow night’s game – Chelsea can secure their spot in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2014 – Tuchel is understandably keen to have Kante in his starting XI.
However, the German coach admits he will not rush the Frenchman back if he is not 100% fit.
“First of all, I was unbelievably happy when he came with us last week [for the first leg] because I didn’t expect it,” Tuchel said. “He was confident enough to return earlier, to help us in the last 15 minutes.
“But the downside of this situation was that he lost a little bit of sleep after the travel issues, had less work in training because he was sitting on the bench and only playing 20 minutes. And the next day he suffered from travelling and could not train like he normally trains.
“We decided to play him from the bench against Palace but honestly, the decision I will make tomorrow morning when I see him in training then we will look at the others and how they feel.
“Normally it is hard to imagine this game without NG. But at the same time, we really need to be…