Football

Chelsea handed massive injury scare ahead of Premier League return

Romelu Lukaku's natural abilities as a number nine can help Timo Werner flourish after a misfiring first season at Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has said ahead of the Belgian's second debut.

Romelu Lukaku has pulled out of Belgium’s squad ahead of their Nations League third-placed playoff against Italy on Sunday, giving Chelsea a big concern in the process.

The 28-year-old forward scored Belgium’s second goal in their 3-2 defeat to France in the Nations League semi-finals on Thursday evening. But after a recovery day on Friday, he did not feature in training in Saturday’s training session with Roberto Martinez’s men.

And the Belgium FA has since confirmed that Lukaku left the team’s training base on Saturday afternoon.

The news will come as a big concern for Chelsea, who face London rivals Brentford in the Premier League next Saturday.

“Eden Hazard and Lukaku are in a similar physical condition. They have had muscle overload and we didn’t have the facilities here to do the usual medical work. So they will return to Belgium to get back to the best in the clubs,” Martinez said on Saturday.

“It’s an overload, it’s a medical issue.

“We don’t have the feeling they are 100 per cent to be on the pitch. I don’t know what the evolution of these injuries will be.

“Whether they will be available for the first match of their respective clubs depends on their progress at their clubs. But it is certainly not the same injury that [Thomas] Meunier suffered.

“Obviously there is an excellent understanding between the two medical staff [of Belgium and Chelsea] and we want to do the best for the player, every decision is also made in agreement with the club.”

Lukaku made an impressive start to life back at Stamford Bridge with four goals in as many appearances. However, he has not scored in his last five Chelsea games.

That barren run prompted his former Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte to suggest that Thomas Tuchel is not using the player properly.

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