Thomas Tuchel on Kai Havertz, academy stars and Newcastle

(Photo by Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Kai Havertz is expected to return from injury in the coming days, Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday.

The 21-year-old has recently been an absent figure, failing to make the Chelsea squad for three consecutive games. Ahead of their Premier League clash against Newcastle on Monday, the Blues manager gave an update on his German compatriot.  

Speaking about Havertz in his pre-match press conference, Tuchel said, “For Kai, let’s see if he’s out today. It will be a very short time for Kai, he will be missing for this as well. Unfortunately he’s missed some training sessions, some games for us. Hopefully he can come back in the next days.”

Arriving at Stamford Bridge for a record-breaking fee last summer, Havertz has struggled to find his feet in England. The German has 11 goals and assists in 26 appearances, scoring just once in the Premier League so far.

(Nischal’s Blog)

Settling into a new country – on top of catching COVID-19 – has proved challenging for Havertz, but working with Tuchel could be the key to unlocking his talent. Although he has featured in just 22% of the action under his new manager, these are still early days in Tuchel’s reign and Havertz’s development.

Tuchel went on to say, “I’m pretty sure we will see him, it takes time. What we can rely on is that all this potential and logic is in him to show it on the pitch. For every player, it’s different. Sometimes it’s a process. All we can do is push him, support him, give him what he needs.

“He had a pretty good start with us, and I have the feeling that I see a guy who’s totally clear, very self-aware, very humble and incredibly talented. There are no doubts that he will show this.”

Havertz is one of two confirmed absentees for Chelsea, with veteran defender Thiago Silva also missing out. Timo Werner and Andreas Christensen should be available, after coming off injured against Sheffield United and Barnsley respectively.

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(Justin Tallis/Getty Images)

“It was not concussion-related at all,” Tuchel said on Christensen, “It was a headache, so it was better that we took him off. It should be absolutely okay for Timo Werner to come back, it’s maybe too close for Kai. For Thiago, we are aiming for Southampton. We are trying hard, let’s see if we make it, I cannot promise though.”

Chelsea go into Monday’s match off the back of four straight wins, remaining unbeaten under Tuchel. The Blues laboured past Barnsley in the FA Cup on Thursday, where Tammy Abraham’s close-range finish booked their berth in the quarter-final.

Reflecting on his FA Cup debut, Tuchel explained, “There are things we can do much better than we did at Barnsley. We hardly managed to get into the opponents’ box, it was very hard to escape the first pressing line and put the game into the opponents’ half. In the last 15 minutes, we could not escape our own half. We had a lack of rhythm, a lack of confidence, the pitch was very hard to play on.”

While the game was one to forget, the goal was to savour. Created by youngster Billy Gilmour and finished off by two academy graduates, Reece James and Abraham, it was a goal manufactured in Cobham and executed to perfection, proving decisive in seeing off a resolute Barnsley side.

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(Billy Gilmour)

Tuchel spoke of his admiration for the academy players, and highlighted their importance in his project at Stamford Bridge.

He said, “I love to watch training and in-house games of the academy on other pitches. This is always the backbone of any club. They care about Chelsea, because they live it. It was a good moment. I like that they accept the challenge to make it here, and I feel from the boys here that they absolutely want to make it as Chelsea players.”

Chelsea have the chance to return to the top four for the first time this year, as they welcome Newcastle to Stamford Bridge. Leicester’s clash with Liverpool on Saturday will be crucial, with a result for the Foxes opening the door for Chelsea to leapfrog Liverpool into fourth with a win.

“We will prepare for the next few days for Newcastle, which will be a hard challenge,” Tuchel said. “There is a lot of space to improve, and that’s a good thing. We will focus on details, and we will help them to understand what we can do better. Now we have three days to prepare for the next match, and we will use them.”

(Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

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