London (AFP) – N’Golo Kante is out of Chelsea’s Champions League match against Juventus on Wednesday after testing positive for coronavirus, manager Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.
Tuchel said the France World Cup-winner, 30, did not train Tuesday ahead of the Group H match in Italy.
Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount are injured as is Reece James, who hurt his ankle against Manchester City at the weekend.
“Christian, Mason and Reece are out due to injury and N’Golo unfortunately tested positive and needs to quarantine and follow the government protocols,” Tuchel told reporters.
“He was not in training today and is of course not with the group.”
Kante will isolate for 10 days, meaning he will also miss Saturday’s Premier League match against Southampton and there is uncertainty too over whether he will be available for France’s Nations League match against Belgium on October 7.
Tuchel admitted he did not know how many of his squad had been vaccinated but revealed he had received the jab himself, saying the choice must be left to the players themselves.
“We are also only a reflection of society, the players are adults and it’s a free choice if they want to get vaccinated or not,” he said. “And I think we should accept it.”
England manager Gareth Southgate disclosed in August he had received more abuse for recording a video urging young people to get vaccinated than he did during Euro 2020.
– Role models? –
But Tuchel was wary of saying footballers should get the jab to set an example to the rest of society.
“Do I have the right to say it? I’m not so sure,” said the Chelsea boss. “I can make the decision for myself and everybody else needs to reflect about it and take the risk or not.
“It’s a serious question and vaccination seems to be a proper protection. I am vaccinated. I took the decision for myself.
“But I don’t really see myself in the position to speak out and make recommendations. I think that would go too far. I’m a football coach, not a 100 percent expert in this.”
Tuchel led Chelsea to Champions League glory in May, just four months after taking over at Stamford Bridge, and he admitted that achievement, plus a successful transfer window, had changed how they were viewed by their rivals.
“It’s hard to be seen as the underdog when you’ve just won the title but I think we came from a role not as the favourites last season and we got better with every match and we grew in confidence,” he said.
“Now it is of course easy to make us the favourites.
“We have the experience that it gets a higher value to play against us, it is a higher motivation to play against us and we have to accept this.”