Thomas Tuchel dismissed on Wednesday fears that N’Golo Kante’s spate of hamstring injuries could diminish the France World Cup winner’s midfield dynamism, declaring himself a “huge fan”.
Kante will start Thursday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash at Barnsley in a much-changed Blues line-up, with new boss Tuchel delighted by the 29-year-old’s return to fitness.
Chelsea boss Tuchel has tipped the “humble” midfielder to rediscover his aggressive, ball-winning best form.
“I’m absolutely not concerned about his quality,” Tuchel said. “From what I see on the pitch in games and what I see on the pitch at Cobham, it’s everything I expected — and I expected a lot, I can tell you.
“I’m a huge fan and I can see the input he has on teams, he makes teams better, he makes guys around him feel comfortable.
“He has the mentality of a water-carrier, but on such a high level.”
Tuchel, who taken 10 points out of 12 in the Premier League since he replaced Frank Lampard last month, said he was confident that Chelsea could manage Kante’s workload.
The Frenchman made substitute appearances in wins against Tottenham and Sheffield United.
“I think N’Golo fits into any manager’s plans on the planet,” the former Paris Saint-Germain boss said.
“I was desperate to have him in my teams in the past. He is a big Chelsea player and one of the best midfielders in the world. So I am so lucky to have him in my squad and that he is back fit again.”