First-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has still not recovered from his minor hamstring injury and remains very much a game-time decision for Antonio Conte ahead of Chelsea’s season-defining clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The hamstring injury caused Courtois to miss Chelsea’s FA Cup quarterfinal win over Leicester City — through regular cup-goalkeeper Willy Caballero deputized capably, as he has all season — and the 25-year-old was subsequently sent home from Belgium without playing a minute for them in the international break. This was supposed to be precautionary, with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez fully expecting Courtois to be ready for the weekend. Alas, that’s not quite the case just yet.
As the Telegraph’s Matt Law reports, Thibaut hasn’t had a full practice session since coming back last Thursday. Uh-oh. Hamstring injuries do have a habit of lingering, unfortunately.
Should Courtois not pass his fitness test — and we know that Conte doesn’t like to push players back from injury unless it’s a last resort — Willy Caballero would have to make just his second Premier League start for the club. Fortunately, the veteran netminder, who made his Argentina debut at 36 years of age just last weekend in a 2-0 win against Italy but then let in 5 goals against Spain a few days later, has been a solid presence in goal. In 10 games for Chelsea this season, he’s lost only once (the 2-1 League Cup semifinal 2nd leg defeat to Arsenal) and has kept 4 clean sheets (including the 4-0 win over Brighton in his only league start).
As it stands Thibaut remains a game-time decision. But that decision is looking a lot dicier than it did earlier this week.