BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea head into tomorrow’s top-versus-bottom Premier League clash against Norwich without their two top strikers.
Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner limped off in the midweek 4-0 drubbing of Malmö in the Champions League – Lukaku with an ankle injury and Werner with a hamstring pull.
Both will also miss next week’s League Cup fourth round clash against Southampton at the Bridge.
It means that Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi will have a chance to stake their claim for more game time.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel said: “Romelu twisted his ankle with the foul in the box and Timo has a hamstring injury. It will take a while for both of them. We need more examinations to be more precise but they will be out for some matches.”
Tuchel had said that Belgium striker Lukaku was suffering from mental fatigue but still played him on Wednesday.
“It was necessary that he was on the pitch and he started very strong,” said the German.
“I spoke with him about the situation, that I think he carries a bit of mental fatigue around with him. That is also normal, but he is our number nine and is our reference up front.
“The best thing against mental fatigue is a goal and we knew we could be the dominant team. We knew we wanted to build our attack against Malmö with Mason [Mount] and Timo around him. I had the strong belief that in a Champions League match he could turn things around in terms of scoring, which he did because he was super strong from the start.
“It’s not a muscle injury or because of physical fatigue. He is a little bit overplayed. This is my opinion and maybe I’m not even right.
“But this was a moment to give him confidence and let him play. I don’t regret it, things like this can happen. It was bad luck.”
On Havertz and Hudson-Odoi, Tuchel said: “When they are on the pitch, they need to show their hunger and determination to be decisive and be in the box.
“There is still room to improve and on Saturday we need the same hunger and determination from whoever starts for us. We need to find solutions without Romelu and Timo, that’s clear.”
Chelsea are second in Group H of the Champions League, three points behind Juventus but three ahead of Zenit St Petersburg.
Tuchel was cliche personified when it came to any suggestions he was resting players: “We take the games step by step, there was no more important game than Malmö,” he said.
“Jorginho didn’t play against Brentford, we went with Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
“The guys on the pitch deserve to start, there are no gifts or resting players because the next game is more important.
“On Saturday, we will again pick the best team. We will look at the data and be very professional in our recovery.”