Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel admits he has concerns about N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic joining up with their respective countries for international duty given both have only just returned from injuries.
Kante missed the wins over Norwich City and Malmo due to muscle discomfort yet has been selected by France boss Didier Deschamps for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Finland.
Pulisic, meanwhile is still in the early stages of his comeback from an ankle injury suffered while representing the USA in September.
The 23-year-old missed 12 matches for Chelsea in all competitions but featured for 16 minutes against Malmo on Tuesday and played the final 10 of the Blues’ frustrating 1-1 draw with Burnley at Stamford Bridge.
Neither are 100% match fit – Kante didn’t complete 90 minutes against the Clarets – and while Tuchel appreciates both will gain sharpness if they feature for their countries, he is more concerned about the possibility of the duo returning to Chelsea injured.
The Chelsea head coach explained: “We are happy on one side when our players get nominated because they are proud to play for their country and we want to have the best players that are nominated. On the other side, we would love to rest the players, of course, and give them some days off to disconnect and relax.
“With the guys who come from injuries, it feels a little bit like we take care of them, and by doing that we take into account where they play and travel. This is the case with N’Golo and Christian.
“We have prepared them over the last two weeks for us but also so they free to go to their national teams and hopefully get the minutes that elevates them to a higher level when they come back, but if they do not get injured in the matches.
“This is a constant balance and we have no control over it. So I’m always a bit frightened.”
Pulisic is arguably the bigger concern. The American star has played just four times for Chelsea this term yet has been drafted into the USMNT squad for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Mexico. Another in Jamaica follows three days later.
Tuchel believes the U.S. will take care of the winger and is also adamant Pulisic himself has to be cautious with his recovery.
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“If you look at the minutes, the question is maybe answered. I hope they don’t overuse him, are responsible enough. Christian still feels a bit of pain. He absolutely wants to come back and it’s a matter of pain management.
“It’s not a matter of re-injury of still being injured. It’s just still painful but he tried hard, he wanted desperately to come back and we needed him back.
“So it was a good start in Malmo and today he had ten minutes. We are a bit worried. Hopefully, he himself is responsible and doesn’t get carried away by emotions and by helping his country to win a super important match.
“Hopefully, all goes well and the minutes will elevate him so he comes back stronger.”