Chelsea are sweating on the fitness of Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead of their Champions League quarter-final clash against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Loftus-Cheek was absent for Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, which saw the Blues fall to their third straight defeat under caretaker Frank Lampard.
But Lampard confirmed the reason for his absence at the weekend and revealed he is suffering from a back injury. When asked who was not fit, the Chelsea boss replied: “Ruben – back.”
Many question marks were raised when Lampard’s starting XI was named prior to the defeat to Brighton. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Hakim Ziyech, both who seemingly have no long term future at Chelsea, were both named on the bench while Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke were not in the matchday squad.
Lampard was also quizzed on Madueke’s omission and remained coy on his reasoning for leaving the 21-year-old out entirely. The Chelsea boss said: “Madueke, out of the squad.”
Madueke won’t be involved either in midweek when Real Madrid visit Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie, with Chelsea currently 2-0 down on aggregate. He is ineligible after not being selected in the knockout squad, which was decided by former head coach Graham Potter prior to progressing past Borussia Dortmund.
One player who could return is Kai Havertz. He missed out against Brighton due to a knee problem but Lampard is hoping he will be back and available for the second leg clash in the capital.
“Kai has had a little issue with his knee, which he felt in Madrid on Wednesday night,” revealed Lampard.
“He should be fine for Tuesday (against Real Madrid at home).”
Kalidou Koulibaly will be sidelined for the European clash due to a hamstring injury suffered in the first leg. Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante were both rested against Brighton and are expected to return to the side next week.
Joao Felix was also not involved on Saturday against the Seagulls and will be keen to reclaim his role in the side despite drawing blank in the first leg even though he could’ve put the Blues ahead less than two minutes into the tie at the Bernabeu.
The Brighton defeat was another miserable afternoon for Chelsea, with Lampard still winless since returning, but they remain hopeful of pulling off a shock after the caretaker boss called for his side to step up.
On Real Madrid, Lampard concluded: “They’re a top team. It’s up to us, nothing is on the fans for this one, it’s up to us as a squad in terms of the game on Tuesday.”