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Kovačić tests positive and Jorginho joins Chelsea’s walking wounded with five set to miss Zenit trip

Team news ahead of Wednesday’s game

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

Chelsea’s injuries and fitness concern continue to pile up, with at least five players set to miss out on Wednesday’s match against Zenit St Petersburg.

That includes all three of our first-choice midfielders, with Jorginho now joining N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić on the sidelines. The UEFA Player of the Year had been the only fit first-choice midfielder for the past couple months, and now we’re paying the price for overloading him (first on the pitch with errors, and now with a back injury).

“Ben Chilwell is out, N’Golo Kanté is out, Trevoh Chalobah is out, Jorginho is out and Mateo Kovačić is out.”

“[Jorginho’s] out of tomorrow’s game with back pain. [He] played with back pain against West Ham and played because we had been without Mateo Kovačić and N’Golo Kanté for a long time.

“Sometimes you overload players, over-play players. With Jorgi, who came the Euros and Champions League, with no pre-season, we knew that in some weeks he will face a dip of freshness and form. At this moment when it happens, it’s natural to use other midfielders, but they are out because of injury.”

And it sounds like those other midfielders will be out for some time yet, as Kanté is still not back in training and while Kovačić did pop in for a day, he’s now tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating for the next ten days. So the earliest he will likely be back is the home game against Everton on the 16th.

“Mateo was in training yesterday with a big smile and it was pure pleasure to have him back. But he tested positive today before the warm-up so he is isolating and out for several days which is a huge setback for him and all of us.”

So that leaves Ruben Loftus-Cheek as the one obvious pick for the midfield, with Saúl continuing to unfortunately play well below acceptable levels. Ross Barkley could be another option. Then again, this game might be one where Tuchel will take the risk? Or perhaps come up with a more creative option?

“We always reflect on every single training session, performance and form. [Saúl] has struggled a bit with the intensity but he was unlucky because we played against Southampton, Aston Villa and Watford and all three, when we looked at the data, were high intensity even in terms of Premier League games. They were above the average.

“That did not suit his qualities and we try to encourage him because he grows into Chelsea more and more. We will not stop encouraging him and we will try to bring out his best to help us and help the team. There is a high possibility we will do this tomorrow and we will help him.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

Regardless of who plays, a mistake-free performance is expected.