Chelsea face nervous wait over Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Rudiger fitness for Brentford clash

By James Robson

Romelu Lukaku withdrew from the Belgium squad with muscle fatigue

(Picture: Getty Images)

N’Golo Kante is ready to return for Chelsea’s game against Brentford on Saturday after recovering from Covid-19.

But Thomas Tuchel faces an anxious wait over the fitness of Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Rudiger following the international break. Both players suffered injury concerns while on duty for their countries, which forced them to miss matches.

Lukaku has been treated for muscle fatigue, which prevented him from playing in Belgium’s Nations League third-place play-off against Italy on Sunday.

Chelsea agreed for him to return to his homeland, rather than report straight back to their Cobham training base as the extent of what has been described as an overload was assessed by national team doctors.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said: "Obviously there is an excellent understanding between the two sets of medical staff and we want to do the best for the player.

"Every decision is also made in agreement with the club."

Rudiger has been struck down with a back problem that forced him to miss training for Germany and ruled him out of their World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia.

The centre-back’s potential absence against Brentford will be of particular concern to Tuchel, who is already without Thiago Silva due to the Brazil defender not returning from international duty in time to feature.

While Rudiger responded well to treatment from German doctors, he did not recover sufficiently to play any part against North Macedonia.

Kante’s return from isolation is better news for the Chelsea manager after the France midfielder missed games against Juventus and Southampton before the international break.

He has been back in full training this week, along with Reece James, who has recovered from the ankle injury suffered against Manchester City last month.

Meanwhile, Tuchel will have been encouraged by Timo Werner’s form for his country, with the German scoring twice in the 4-0 win against North Macedonia on Monday.

Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz was also on the score-sheet.

But it is Werner who has been under most scrutiny following his struggles in front of goal.

His strike against Southampton in Chelsea’s last game was his first in the Premier League since April 24, with Tuchel hoping it will prove a turning point for the £45million striker.

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