Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger tells Thomas Tuchel which two players the team ‘needs’

Wolves v Chelsea Match Pictures

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Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger has told Thomas Tuchel that the Blues need N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic after the pair returned to the side for their trip to Wolves on Sunday. Tuchel called upon the duo during the game – despite the fact they had only recently returned to fitness – after a string of players went down with COVID-19.

The Chelsea boss was furious the Blues’ game in the Black Country went ahead after a late request for it to be postponed was rejected by the Premier League.

Jorginho, Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were all forced into isolation over the weekend after going down the virus.

Those developments followed positive tests from Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku last week.

With the west Londoners short of numbers, Tuchel was only able to name four players on the bench against Wolves.

Kovacic was one of Tuchel’s substitutes and replaced Hakim Ziyech with 25 minutes of the match remaining.

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The Croatia midfielder only returned to training on Friday after himself recovering from a positive COVID-19 test.

He had not played since October after suffering a hamstring injury.

Kante, meanwhile, completed the full 90 minutes in Wolverhampton, despite not featuring since being forced off with a knee injury during his side’s Champions League thumping of Juventus last month.

Rudiger was quick to praise the duo in difficult circumstances after the match.

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“It is not easy for him, he has been out for a number of time,” the Germany defender said of Kante.

“The same for Kova. They came in and were lively. That is very important for us because it is clear that we need them.”

Chelsea were far from their best in their latest Premier League clash as they whimpered to a 0-0 draw.

That result means the Blues have won just three of their last eight top-flight games and have fallen six points behind leaders Manchester City.

“We were struggling with the preparation because we had several consecutive days with positive Covid tests and then we travelled together for three hours with the team, we had dinner together we had another positive test with Jorginho,” Tuchel said after the match.

“People are worried because they were on the same bus and had the same dinner.

“Obviously it was not enough to postpone the match and we had to play but you cannot demand 100 per cent focus.

“It was everything else but calm. Today in the morning at 8.30am they knock on the door and have another test nobody knew about – so do we wake players up who want to sleep a bit longer?”

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