Saul follows Tuchel instruction, Kante makes return: Four things spotted in Chelsea training

By Adam Newson

Cobham has been quieter this week with the vast majority of Chelsea's first-team squad – and many from within the academy ranks – away representing their countries during the international break.

Yet training has continued for several senior stars under the watchful eye of Thomas Tuchel and his coaching staff. The likes of Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley have been involved, as have Saul Niguez and Hakim Ziyech, who is currently banished from the Morocco set-up.

The sessions will not have been too complicated; there is little use for Tuchel to try to implement tactical constructs given the majority of his squad is absent.

They do, however, give players on the fringes an opportunity to catch the eye of the German coach. Those brought up from the Development Squad, and there are a few, can also make an impression on the Chelsea boss.

Tuchel will not allow standards to drop during the international break. The Blues players will be pushed hard to ensure fitness levels don't drop, that they will be ready to take on Brentford if called upon in a little over a week's time.

And here are four things we spotted during this week's training at Chelsea's training base in Surrey.

Saul continues to work

Saul Niguez will hope for further match time after the international break (Chelsea FC)

Signed on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, Saul's first month in English football hasn't been easy.

The midfielder was thrown straight into the starting XI for the Premier League clash against Aston Villa but struggled with the intensity of the game and was replaced at half time. His next appearance came in the Carabao Cup, also against Villa, and on that occasion, he made it to the 76th minute before being replaced.

Saul hasn't featured since but Tuchel has spoken positively about the impact the Spain international can make when up when fully acclimatised to the English game.

"He does not need to worry," Tuchel said after the weekend win over Southampton. "Just work hard and adapt and the chances will come. We have only 11 [players] to give a chance to. I would like to see it in a positive way.

"He was very, very close to starting today. In the end, I decided against him because I thought to put him in another high-pressing match, against an opponent pressing so high in the centre of the pitch, wouldn't be fair. It would not be fair to say 'okay, now prove it and let’s see if your adaption has gone further' and I hesitated a little bit."

Saul, unsurprisingly given his lack of game time, wasn't called up to the Spain squad for their Nations League fixtures and is spending the international break working hard – as instructed by Tuchel – at Cobham. He will hope for another opportunity in the Chelsea side in the weeks to come.

N'Golo Kante returns

It was ahead of Chelsea's Champions League trip to Turin to face Juventus, which eventually ended in defeat, that Tuchel revealed the French midfielder had tested positive for Covid-19.

As a result, the 30-year-old would have to self-isolate for a period of 10 days, something which ruled him out of being involved for France in the Nations League semi-finals and final.

Kante was also kept out of the 1-0 loss to Juventus and the 3-1 victory over Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

However, the midfielder made his return to training today and will be in contention to start against Brentford in a little more than a week's time.

Xavier Simons steps up

Xavier Simons training with the Chelsea first team during the international break (Chelsea FC)

There are always players brought up from the Development Squad during international breaks. Not only do they help fill out Tuchel's squad for training drills but are rewarded for their dedication and performances during the early weeks of the campaign.

And this time it was the turn of Xavier Simons. The 18-year-old midfielder endured a difficult 2020/21 campaign – he made just two appearances after suffering a knee injury – but had a full pre-season and has looked sharp for the Under-23s despite often playing in a new role in defence.

He was joined in first-team training by Lewis Baker and George McEachran, both of whom failed to secure loan moves away in the summer transfer window.

Malang Sarr remains involved

During the final hours of the summer transfer window, the French centre-back thought he was going to be spending the remainder of the campaign on loan at newly-promoted Bundesliga side Greuther Furth.

Sarr even travelled out to Germany to undertake a medical only to discover on arrival that the switch was off and that he would spend the first half of this season on the fringes at Chelsea.

Thus far, Sarr has made just one appearance against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup. He has also been involved in the Champions League matchday squads against Zenit and Juventus but didn't get off the bench.

The 22-year-old has had no involvement in the Premier League and with Chalobah, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger ahead of him in the pecking order, that is unlikely to change in the near future despite his efforts in training.


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