Werner not ready to return to training after Covid

Timo Werner is still feeling the effects of Covid-19, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

Romelu Lukaku, who also recently tested positive for the virus, scored during an impressive performance against Brighton at Stamford Bridge.

But Werner is still struggling and has not been able to return to training.

“Not good. Not in training,” was Tuchel’s blunt response when asked about Werner after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw.

Tuchel insisted Chelsea’s poor display against Brighton was somewhat inevitable given the problems the Blues have been facing.

And those problems increased, with Reece James and Andreas Christensen going off injured.

The European Champions, who have been hampered by injuries and Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, are now eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, who won 1-0 at Brentford.

James was deployed as a makeshift left wing-back because Ben Chilwell is out with a long-term knee injury.

James was in obvious pain after suffering a hamstring injury.

Christensen got through the first half despite a back problem but did not appear after the interval.

Boss Tuchel described James’ injury as a “huge blow” and said Christensen was “one of the top players on the pitch” before having to be withdrawn.

On top of Chelsea’s existing worries, the two injuries are a real concern.

Tuchel said: “It’s too much. At some point it’s too much.

“That’s why I can understand that you will struggle if you play against a Brighton side with nothing to lose and plays with confidence.

“We knew before that this was going to be a tough match against a strong side.

“They came well prepared. I have not seen one team play a nice match against them.

“It was clear that we struggle. We have simply way too many players of whom we don’t know what we can demand – they come from long injuries and come from Covid. I simply don’t know what they are capable of doing.”

Tuchel was deeply unhappy about Mason Mount having a goal disallowed shortly before Brighton’s stoppage-time equaliser and said it was “honestly a joke” that VAR was not used to check a possible penalty for a foul on Christian Pulisic.

He also suggested that Chelsea, who went ahead through Lukaku’s 27th-minute header, are not in a position to compete for the title.

He said: “Why should we be? We have seven Covid cases and had four or five key players out for six or more weeks. How should we compete in a title race?

“This is where we are and you need to adapt your demands to the situation you are in.

“I simply don’t know what I can expect from my players in terms of physical fitness and intensity. I don’t know it anymore.

“Of course we can play much better, but we need a full squad over weeks and weeks – and then we play much better.

“You see the impact N’Golo Kante has if he only plays 30 minutes – one single player.

“If you add (up) the minutes he is missing over the season and the minutes from Mateo Kovacic, it’s too much.”