We’ll never know if the reason that Antonio Conte kept Thibaut Courtois off the pitch and out of the squad on Sunday was because he was injured. If it had been Barcelona, maybe he’d have played.
What we do seem to know (now) is that he’s carrying a knock. Reputable Belgian newspaper Le Soir is reporting that Courtois will be held out of Belgium’s friendly against Saudi Arabia next Tuesday.
According to the report, he has a thigh injury — though this wasn’t something that the national team doctors found. In fact Chelsea sent Courtois back to Belgium with instructions for his care and maintenance, which include a week of rest for said knock.
Courtois is in the delicate position of both negotiating a contract extension which asks for a healthy raise, while at the same time suffering through what some interpret as a slump in form. He himself has taken blame for Messi’s first goal at Camp Nou.
Nobody knew he was less than 100%, although it’s likely that at this stage of a long and demanding season most players are carrying something or other. Nor do we know when this injury might have happened and how much, if at all, it’s affecting his play.
But if a week of rest will do the trick, and since Roberto Martinez is sensibly taking Chelsea’s advice and rolling out Liverpool’s backup Simon Mignolet instead, by the time Thibaut gets back to Cobham he should fully fit again.