Thomas Tuchel admits he ‘simply ignored’ advice from Chelsea’s medical team by leaving N’Golo Kante on the pitch for 90 minutes against Wolves, with his squad decimated by coronavirus
- Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted he ignored advice on N’Golo Kante
- The Blues’ medical team said Kante should only play 45 minutes against Wolves
- But with his squad decimated by Covid Tuchel played him for the full 90 minutes
Thomas Tuchel has admitted he ignored advice from his medical team to only play N’Golo Kante for 45 minutes against Wolves.
The Blues could only draw 0-0 at Molineux on Sunday, with their squad ravaged by a coronavirus outbreak which ripped through the squad, and several injuries to key players.
Kante had only recently returned from a knee injury suffered against Juventus in November and Tuchel was therefore told to limit his game time to just one half of football – but the German kept him on for the entire match.
Boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed he ignored Chelsea’s medical advice regarding N’Golo Kante
He said: ‘We had a strong recommendation (for Kante) to play 45 (minutes), which we simply ignored and left him on the pitch. We have seven players out with Covid, we have injured players out.
‘It was not the moment to take one of the world’s best midfielders out of the game because he’s tired. So we left him, and he makes the difference all of the time.’
Kante made it through the full match, seemingly with no lasting repercussions other than fatigue, and was a key defensive presence as Chelsea eventually settled for a point given how badly their squad was hit by player absences.
Kai Havertz tested positive for Covid-19, with Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku also in isolation, and central midfielders Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek missing due to injury.
With the Italian out after he was forced to play through the pain barrier against Leeds on December 11, Tuchel started with Kante and Trevoh Chalobah – the latter more comfortable at centre back – in midfield.
Chalobah picked up a knock in the first period, meaning the German turned to much-maligned loanee Saul Niguez to replace him, with Mateo Kovacic only fit enough for 25 minutes off the bench and Ross Barkley an unused substitute.
The Blues had asked the Premier League to postpone the Wolves match, but the request was rejected just hours before kick-off, a decision which left Tuchel ‘angry’ as he could only name a 17-man squad with six subs, including three goalkeepers.
He said pre-match: ‘We are disappointed, we are a bit angry. I am worried from a medical point of view, we have had four days of consecutive positive tests. How will it stop if we are in a bus and in meetings together?
Tuchel felt he was forced into the decision after the Blues squad was ravaged by Covid-19
‘We applied to not play and put the situation under control, it was rejected. It is very hard to understand it, we are concerned about the health of the players.
‘We end up with players who play coming from injuries and we take the risk.’
After the game, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss added: ‘We were putting the health and safety of players at huge risk, physically as well as with Covid.
‘We can survive a game but eventually we will pay the price – maybe we are paying the price already. I can’t compare to other games, it is just our situation. It is not safe. We talk about protecting players and a safe environment but it is not safe.’
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