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Reece James back but four out for Chelsea in latest ‘big challenge’ against West Ham United

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Chelsea Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Except for a couple brief reprieves, Chelsea have been dealing with a steady stream of injuries all season. The flow has varied between stronger and weaker at times, but the concept of a fully fit team is a long lost memory at this point.

The fact that we’ve managed to navigate through this to the top of the table in both the Premier League and our Champions League group, while already winning one cup and keeping alive in another may have flown under the narrative radar, but that doesn’t lessen its real world impact.

And that trend continues this weekend, with yet another big blow in Trevoh Chalobah’s hamstring, which is still being assessed from Wednesday. He joins long-term absentees Ben Chilwell and Mateo Kovacic, as well as N’Golo Kanté, who was also absent from training once again.

“Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo, Ben Chilwell and Trevoh Chalobah did not train today. So they are all out for tomorrow, but everybody else is available.

“Yeah [it’s a big blow]. Every player is a player too much, but of course it’s a lot of midfield players, and it’s many weeks now for Kova, we miss him and also NG. Of course Ben Chilwell is a long one, we know this. For Trevoh we need more examinations to see how bad the injury is.”

Chelsea Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The good news is that Reece James has recovered from the ankle knock that kept him out on Wednesday, while Jorginho and Romelu Lukaku should be ready to start as well — though Tuchel sounded a bit more cautious about the latter.

“I will not tell you [if Lukaku will start] because this is part of the lineup where we also want the opponents to know very late who starts for us. He is in training, he wants to start, he is eager to start [but] it is also difficult for Romelu and the other guys who have come in after injuries to hit their top level [...] Tomorrow there will be new questions, it is a completely new team, we will have some changes again but from there we go but we are full of confidence.”

[...]

“It is massive [boost to have James and Jorginho back] because Reece is the specialist on the side and Jorgi is the guy left from Kova, NG and him from the three on whose shoulders we put the central role over a very long period now.

“Absolutely happy that Ruben steps in now in the way he does it. But we are happy that Jorgi is back in training and we can’t wait for Kova and NG to come back because they are a very important part of the season and in our games. This midfield role, where we missed the experience and the leadership qualities of the guys that are out. It is good that they are back.”

Chelsea Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Regardless of who starts, we will have to play better than on Wednesday, to say the least. West Ham like nothing more than taking three points off Chelsea in any given year, and that’s doubly true in a year that sees them flying high and in with a realistic chance of a top-four finish. They lead the chasing pack below the top three and will be out for blood even more so than usual.

And it’s an early kick-off to boot.

“They are a very good team with a very good coach, they show huge solidarity [...] they play with a lot of energy, a lot of positivity in what they are doing, their belief. They do not have too many changes, they play as a team and they do what they do good, they believe in themselves and that’s why everybody is there when they deserve to be. At the moment they are in fourth place, they play strong in European competitions.

“It’s a tough match, it’s a tough team to play against – but it’s also tough to play against us so it will be an exciting lunchtime match. So we need to be on our top level to have a chance to win. [...] It is another challenge coming [but also] a lot of reward for good performances [...] It is hard, sometimes we are fatigued and sometimes it is stressful but this is what we want and love and we are in the middle of it.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

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