Thomas Tuchel has allayed fears that N’Golo Kante suffered another fitness setback after he was substituted at the break against Aston Villa.
The Frenchman has endured a stop-start star to the new campaign with a persistent groin injury forcing the Chelsea manager to use him sparingly thus far.
Kante was introduced in the second half against Tottenham, replacing Mason Mount, and played a key role in the comprehensive 3-0 win.
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The roles were reversed in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, however, with Mount replacing Kante at the break, but Tuchel explained why he made the change.
‘For Mason and N’Golo it was clear that we share the game,’ he said, before explaining why Romelu Lukaku was introduced for the last 15 minutes with Thiago Silva enjoying a night off.
‘Thiago and Romelu we had for both cases. We said to Thiago maybe we need you for the last 15 if it was necessary to defend and have someone with experience and calm.
‘With Romelu we said if we need you 10-15 minutes from the end if we need a goal and this is why they were with us.
‘Ross Barkley was strong from the bench and some other guys who didn’t play for a long time stepped up and showed their competitiveness.’
Tuchel added: ‘Kepa is very strong at penalties. He has good experiences in shoot-outs so we focused on that, and tried our best.
‘I’m happy the players kept their cool. It’s a nice win and I’m happy because it was a tough match, a hard cup fight, and it’s a good feeling to win.’