Thomas Tuchel’s first pre-season as Chelsea head coach has not been straightforward, although the German knew full well that was going to be the case in advance.
The vast number of first-team stars representing their countries at this summer’s European Championship and Copa America was always going to leave Tuchel requiring ringers to fill out his senior group.
Fortunately, Chelsea possess an army of talented players just waiting for an opportunity to impress.
When pre-season got underway at Cobham a little more than a week ago, Tuchel had a 28-man group to work with. Its make-up was intriguing.
There were household names, such as Edouard Mendy, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham, a raft of returning loanees and a couple of academy graduates, namely Dujon Sterling and Charly Musonda, back after long lay-offs due to injury and illness.
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Tuchel has had the previous nine days to run his eye over the squad and football.london understands the Chelsea hierarchy are willing to let the 47-year-old make assessments and come to conclusions before any outgoing is finalised.
That is somewhat a departure from the norm, but it does at least give every member of the squad a chance to impress. It will, for the most part, be fair.
The makeshift first-team squad travelled to Ireland yesterday for a week-long training camp just outside of Dublin. And within it were three stars whose futures remain very much uncertain.
Kepa remains the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and still has four years left to run on the contract he signed when Chelsea opted to pay Athletic Club £71million for his services in the summer of 2018.
The problem is that he is firmly the club’s second-choice stopper, with Mendy proving himself one of…