Thomas Tuchel is working with a makeshift first-team group at Cobham with the majority of his star players away on international duty
Chelsea have organised an in-house game at Cobham today between the first-team players not selected for international duty and the club’s Development Squad.
Thomas Tuchel has been working with a makeshift squad this week as the majority of the German’s players are away representing their countries across Europe and Africa.
However, Kepa Arrizabalga, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, new signing Saul Niguez, and those yet to secure a loan move away from Stamford Bridge have been training at Cobham.
Thiago Silva is also with the group as he was not released for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers by Chelsea. The South American country is currently on the UK Government’s red list and Silva would’ve faced a mandatory ten-day hotel quarantine had he travelled.
“If Thiago goes to a red list country,” Tuchel explained last week, “he will play three times, come back and then sit in a hotel. That would have cost him three matches without any training.
“So in our five-match schedule, he would be able to play just two matches for us and then go back on an international break [in October].
“For us, a player that is paid to play for Chelsea, this cannot be the solution. Clearly not. So we were absolutely shocked about the situation at first and confused, and now I am very happy because things are clear and it can only be like this.
“The club needs to get protection on this subject, the club pays the players and the players are here and need to be safe in these crazy times. I can understand the needs of the national teams but we need to find other solutions.”
Silva has made just one 45-minute appearance for Chelsea this season; the backs-to-the-wall second half against Liverpool last weekend.
Hudson-Odoi, meanwhile, has only featured in the UEFA Super Cup. Chilwell and Loftus-Cheek haven’t been handed any competitive action, although the latter was forced into self-isolation for ten days after testing positive for Covid-19.
Today’s in-house match will be an opportunity to get vital minutes into the legs of those yet to feature heavily for the Blues this term. However, Tuchel insisted after the draw at Anfield that Silva and Chilwell were fully up to speed having returned late for pre-season training.
“For Ben Chilwell, it’s very easy,” Tuchel said. “He came back with the latest group [from his summer break]. When he arrived, Marcos Alonso had five weeks in his legs from pre-season.
He played the first competitive matches and was simply way more ready physically. This was natural because of the training session and his fantastic games.
“He played the Super Cup final and three Premier League games. Also, we only have three substitutions allowed and this is a huge problem, a huge, huge disadvantage in the European competitions for any English team.
“We play in the toughest league in the world but only have three [in-game] changes allowed.
“So you can’t say after 60 minutes, ‘Ben, I’ll give you 30 minutes now so you’re ready to start the next game’. You can’t say, ‘let’s see with Thiago how long he can go’. It’s simply not possible.
“Everyone who went further in pre-season is very strong [physically]. This is the only reason.
“But look at how Thiago played today, he was excellent. I could feel he was absolutely ready in the last week. I’ve known him a long time now, he made a huge step.
“Chilly needed his time in training to adapt to the intensity. He is ready now but it [facing Liverpool] wasn’t the moment to push him into the cold water.”