Chelsea have been handed a double injury boost at a crucial time, with three huge cup clashes coming up in the space of a week. The Blues host Lille in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday, before facing Liverpool at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday and travelling to Luton Town in the FA Cup next week.
Boss Thomas Tuchel has been battling injury crises for much of the season, especially in defence, with both of his first-choice wing-back options ruled out for significant periods.
At other points, he lost strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, as well as seeing keeper Edouard Mendy depart for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Those injuries have seriously derailed Chelsea’s Premier League title bid, with the Blues now all but out of the race with Manchester City and Liverpool having pulled away.
With Tuchel’s side seemingly assured of a top four finish, that leaves just the cups for them to play for.
Their first opportunity for major silverware will come on Sunday, when they take on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in the Carabao Cup final.
“We will push for the League Cup final. He has injured ligaments in the very first minute of the final unfortunately,” Tuchel said.
“The Champions League seems to be very, very close and we’ll try hard for the cup final.”
A second boost will come in the expected return of right-back Reece James, who had been ruled out since December with a torn hamstring.
The 22-year-old travelled to the United Arab Emirites for the Club World Cup, though played no part in either of Chelsea’s two games.
And the Daily Mail report that his return has stepped up a gear, with James set to be back with the squad by the end of the week.
That will ‘most likely’ see him feature in some way at Wembley, with the clash against Lille expected to come too soon for the Englishman.
But it is stated that as soon as it is felt that he is ready to play, James will be ‘thrust straight back’ into Tuchel’s side.
His absence has arguably been the hardest felt, with Chelsea having won just two Premier League games since he was forced off against Brighton.
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