eece James will not travel to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury – and will therefore miss Chelsea’s FA Cup draw against Plymouth.
The winger was hoping to be in contention for the competition after more than a month out. But his expected return was delayed after he caught the flu during the Premier League’s winter break.
Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday: “He is not yet in team training. I think after these two weeks he needs time in team training to get his rhythm and confidence back before we can think about letting him play.
“He will not travel with us to Abu Dhabi as he is not part of the team’s training.”
While James’ continued absence is a blow to Chelsea, they have been boosted by the return to fitness of Andreas Christensen (back) and Trevoh Chalobah (knee).
But Tuchel refuses to set a return date for James’ return.
He added: “I know we have setbacks and I know it can be long sometimes. It depends. The injury was a big injury and I felt it right away – the diagnosis was straight away that it was a big injury.
“From there, you have to be patient. It’s a hamstring injury. It’s always tricky and he’s a very physical player and he unfortunately caught the flu and it was a setback last week.
“He lost days in his process of returning to the team. It was a bit of a setback for him. But we are patient. We want to have him on the pitch tomorrow, but that’s not the case for him. right now and we have to be patient. I know Reece is working hard and is in good hands.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek will miss Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Plymouth with a minor complaint, while Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva have not trained after returning from international duty.
Tuchel believes his team will benefit from an extended break after such a busy schedule in December and January.
“We were the team that played the most matches and had the fewest breaks between matches,” he said. “And it took a lot of energy from us, and it was absolutely necessary for everyone.
“So it’s great to be back, it’s a busy month ahead and we’re looking forward to it. It’s very rare that we have four training sessions to prepare for a match.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Bettinelli; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech, Lukaku, Hudson-Odoi.