Chelsea are watching the clock and refusing to give up hope that boss Thomas Tuchel can jet out to Abu Dhabi in time for Saturday’s Club World Cup final.
The German has been unable to link up with Chelsea in the United Arab Emirates after testing positive for Covid-19.
Tuchel watched Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on television at home in London, but still hopes to be able to attend Saturday’s final against Palmeiras.
A negative Covid test stands between Tuchel and a rushed flight out to Abu Dhabi, but the Blues are still determined to give him every chance to attend the finale.
“We still hope that Thomas can come and join the group as soon as possible,” said Chelsea assistant coach Zsolt Low.
“We have 30 hours to the game. He follows the rules and protocols and there’s still a lot of time.
“We hope he can come but if not we are well prepared. We have a lot of meetings, we talk about the game, we analyse the game and see what we can do better. We’re absolutely clear what to do better in the second game.
“Thomas will absolutely want to be here. The whole club wants that. We hope he can make it. We have 30 hours. Every test can be negative and with one he can fly and join the group.”
Chelsea would receive a notable lift should Tuchel be able to coach his squad in person before Saturday’s showdown with Sao Paolo side Palmeiras.
The Blues have already received one boost however, in the shape of in-form goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s return to the squad.
The 29-year-old is back in the Chelsea camp after helping Senegal claim Africa Cup of Nations glory, and Low admitted Mendy has already had a big impact on his team-mates.
The Blues will have to make a big call on whether to continue with an upbeat and confident Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, or restore established number one Mendy.
But for now, Mendy’s mere presence in the squad has lifted Chelsea’s general mood.
“We’re very proud of Edou, the whole squad was happy he won the Africa cup,” said Low.
“He arrived in a very good mood. He always has a big smile on his face, he’s very important to the group and he gives the group a lot of energy.
“He was a little tired the first day, needed recovery and a good sleep, but he is fully involved in training.
“We’re very happy that he’s healthy and absolutely in good shape with good experience behind him. He’s ready to play the game.
“We’re very happy with both goalkeepers. It’s a comfortable situation to have both goalkeepers like this. Now Edou is back he is fresh, we have to take the decision tonight and we’ll talk to Thomas about it.
“The final decision will be some hours before the game but if we decide for one or the other, the one on the bench has nothing to be worried or sad about.
“Both goalkeepers had a big performance in last weeks. This is why it’s a question just for this game. Tonight or latest tomorrow.”
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