Don’t wait around for updates – sign up for our daily football email newsletter today!
Chelsea face two huge games in five days as Saturday's clash against Fulham is followed by next Wednesday's Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel's side host relegation-threatened Fulham at Stamford Bridge targeting three points to help cement their place in the Premier League's top four.
But the Chelsea boss will have one eye on the visit of Los Blancos next week, with the scores locked at 1-1 following last Tuesday's 1-1 first-leg draw in Madrid.
Tuchel will be conscious of the need to rest some of his stars ahead of the second-leg semi-final showdown against Zinedine Zidane's side again.
But he must also ensure maximum return from Saturday's clash against the Cottagers as Chelsea look to fend off the challenge of West Ham, Liverpool and Tottenham for a place in next season's Champions League.
And his hand will be forced to an extent with injuries to Antonio Rudiger and Mateo Kovacic ruling them out of Saturday's game.
“Kova is still injured. He trained with us, but he’s still not fully confident, he felt something at the end of training. So he’s not available unfortunately," said Tuchel.
“All the others are available expect for Toni Rudiger, who got injured in the last minute of the Madrid game.
“Before training today we thought that Kova had a big chance to join us latest for Madrid, maybe even for today. So now we have a little setback, not a big one, with him. I don’t want to be too negative, let’s see how he is tomorrow."
Tuchel hopes Rudiger will be fit to face Madrid on Wednesday, saying: “For Toni, I’m quite positive for Wednesday.”
Rudiger's injury could see Kurt Zouma slot into the three-man defence alongside Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen, as Chelsea look to add to keeper Edouard Mendy's 15 top-flight clean sheets this season.
Cesar Azpilicueta could be rested after playing at right wing-back against Madrid, while Tuchel could also keep Reece James in reserve for next week after he came on to replace the club captain in midweek.
That could see Callum Hudson-Odoi unleashed on the right, with Marcos Alonso coming in for Ben Chilwell on the other flank, while Kovacic's injury is likely to mean N'Golo Kante and Jorginho will continue their midfield partnership.
Top trending sport stories right now
Tuchel has decisions to make with his attack, after Timo Werner faced more criticism following his miss early on in Spain.
The striker scored last week's winner against West Ham before missing a chance to double his side's lead against David Moyes' men.
Kai Havertz could be deployed in a false nine position in place of Werner – but Tuchel has largely kept faith with the striker despite his scoring struggles, and he could be given another chance to discover his sharpness ahead of next week's semi-final.
Mason Mount would be a candidate for a rest with the midfielder having been a key player under both Tuchel and his predecessor Frank Lampard.
But the midfielder's form makes him difficult to leave out with Champions League qualification at stake, and he could retain his place, with Madrid hero Christian Pulisic rested and Hakim Ziyech given an opportunity in his place.
Chelsea expected XI (3-4-3): Mendy; Silva, Christensen, Zouma; Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech, Werner, Mount.
READ MORE:5 mega-lengthy contracts that backfired as Barcelona table Lionel Messi ’10-year deal’
READ MORE:9 world records you didn't know footballers hold from Erling Haaland to Man Utd stars
- Champions League
- Premier League
- Frank Lampard
- Chelsea FC
- Fulham FC
- Real Madrid FC
- Thomas Tuchel
Source: Read Full Article