Christian Pulisic will be available for the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League tie with Porto after dodging a potential hamstring injury in Saturday’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
The US international’s availability is one of three injury boosts for Thomas Tuchel before his side travel to Seville for the ‘away’ leg of their tie, with N’Golo Kante and Tammy Abraham both set to make the trip as well.
Pulisic scored his first goal since Tuchel’s appointment in the 5-2 loss to West Brom but did not take the field at half-time having pulled up with what he feared was an injury to his hamstring as the players warmed up for the second period. It proved to be a near miss for the 22-year-old, who has struggled with muscle problems throughout this season.
“Christian went out right before the injury could happen,” Tuchel said. “We said it at half time, if he continues it will be an injury coming so we took him off.”
Pulisic has missed at least nine games through muscle issues this season and has faced a battle with the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount for starts in Tuchel’s side.
“They are fit enough to be in the squad and they will be in the squad all three,” Tuchel added. “That’s good news… Tammy is in the squad. N’Golo just did a last test and will be on the bench today. He feels very comfortable, comfortable enough to be on the bench.”
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Kante’s availability is also a significant boon for Tuchel. The France midfielder has been fit enough to play the full 90 minutes in just six games since the appointment of his new manager in late January and returned early from international duty with a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the West Brom defeat.
Abraham had played a fringe role since the arrival of Tuchel before an ankle injury sidelined him in February. He will be vying with veteran Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner for a start as Chelsea’s centre forward on Wednesday night but the Blues boss was reluctant to give any indication of who would lead the line against Porto.
“He is in the running,” was all Tuchel would say of Giroud’s chances of starting at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a ground where he scored four goals earlier this season in a comprehensive Champions League group stage win over Sevilla. The Chelsea head coach did, however, indicate that Antonio Rudiger would start following a training ground bust-up with goalkeeper Kepa on Sunday.