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Lukaku has ‘every chance’ of starting for Chelsea against Liverpool, Tuchel says

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Romelu Lukaku has ‘every chance’ of starting for Chelsea against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, Thomas Tuchel has claimed.

The Belgian, who has been criticised for some ineffective displays recently, was rested for the Blues’ victory over Lille in the Champions League in midweek.

Lukaku watched on as his side put in an impressive European display on Tuesday

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Lukaku watched on as his side put in an impressive European display on Tuesday

The £97.5million club-record signing remained an unused replacement as Chelsea put one foot into the quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic struck fine goals amid energetic forward-line performances that could point the way to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds at Wembley this weekend.

But Blues boss Tuchel was quick to explain Lukaku’s omission against Lille was solely a plan for that encounter in isolation.

“Every game is different. The focus for this game was on intensity and a high-speed game,” said Tuchel.

“We needed hard work against the ball and intensive teamwork and Romelu struggled in the last games a little bit to deliver that.

“That’s what I mean when I said I felt him a bit tired, mentally and physically.

Tuchel is hoping to win his fourth piece of silverware with Chelsea this weekend

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Tuchel is hoping to win his fourth piece of silverware with Chelsea this weekend

“He has started every match since the Liverpool game, and had extra time as well.

“It is like this, and against Lille we went for three other players.

“Kai is in very good shape and he delivered high-intensive metres for the team.

“We have four days to decide and recover and – of course – there’s every chance for Romelu to play.”

Lukaku has only scored five goals in 17 appearances in the Premier League this season and has struggled since returning to the club

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Lukaku has only scored five goals in 17 appearances in the Premier League this season and has struggled since returning to the club

Lukaku set a Premier League record-low seven touches in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, with the 28-year-old still scrabbling to find his Stamford Bridge niche.

Havertz has cantered into form in recent weeks in contrast and will be pushing to start Sunday’s League Cup final in the false nine role.

Another player likely to be needed for the match is N’Golo Kante, who laid on Chelsea’s second goal for Pulisic with a driving run and a perfectly-timed slide-rule pass.

Chelsea will need him at his game-breaking best for Sunday’s showdown with Liverpool, especially if Mateo Kovacic cannot find fitness in time for the Wembley encounter.

Kovacic hobbled out of the clash with an apparent left leg problem, while Hakim Ziyech also limped off the field wearing a pained expression.

Tuchel hopes to receive good news on both men in the next couple of days, but Chelsea have been left to sweat on their availability for the weekend.

Kante picked up another man-of-the-match award in the Champions League

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Kante picked up another man-of-the-match award in the Champions League

France’s World Cup-winning midfielder Kante looked back to his best after his recent injury niggles against Lille, leaving Tuchel delighted but not surprised.

“In the last few weeks he had some problems to find his strength and rhythm after his injury,” said Tuchel.

“But he was back on top level against Lille and he got better every minute throughout the game.

“As soon as that happens, instantly he has a huge impact. But this is not a surprise because we know about his huge qualities.

“He found his rhythm, delivered a huge impact and it was an absolutely top performance.”

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