It was widely thought that Antonio Rudiger would return to action for Chelsea today. Reports suggested the German international had fully recovered from his injury layoff in time for this evening’s visit to Watford.
The big German has barely kicked a ball this season, appearing only once. A 45-minute appearance against Southampton. Interestingly, The Blues didn’t concede whilst he was on the field.
The Daily Mail reported yesterday morning that Rudiger is fit and ready to return to Premier League duty. Even quoting the Chelsea man as saying:
“It is very long now. Even with my cruciate ligament rupture, I was not out for so long. I’m itching to play but very patient”.
However, a few hours later, Lampard denied any such return whilst speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of today’s game. The Chelsea boss said:
“He’s not fit, ‘I saw the quotes but there’s a miscommunication somewhere and he’s going to see a consultant on Monday because he has an ongoing issue in his pelvic area which is bothering him. We’ll have to wait until then for a further update”.
Not the best news for Chelsea, who have struggled defensively without the former Stuttgart man. Conceding 16 Premier League goals, leaves them with the equal 17th best defence this season. A total of only two clean-sheets has left fans awaiting his return. Although the blow has been softened somewhat by the emergence of Fikayo Tomori. The youngster has been a revelation since returning from a successful loan spell at Derby County.
Rudiger was a key man for Chelsea last season, playing a huge part in the club’s Europa League success. Forming a partnership with either Andreas Christensen, or the now departed David Luiz. The Blues kept eight clean sheets on their way to lifting the trophy in Baku last May.
Lampard is likely to keep faith today with Tomori and an ever improving Kurt Zouma. The Frenchman had a rocky start to the season, but has looked more assured as the campaign has progressed.