Thomas Tuchel launches Romelu Lukaku defence & gives Kai Havertz fitness update

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has jumped to the defence of striker Romelu Lukaku, who is set to make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury against former club Manchester United on Sunday.

Lukaku – a club-record £97.5m signing from Inter in the summer – was initially in fine form upon his return to Chelsea, scoring four goals in four games. However, that was followed by a seven-match barren spell and a five-week injury layoff after the Belgian was hurt in the Champions League.

Although the Blues were expected to struggle in his absence, they have gone from strength to strength, with goalscoring contributions from across the pitch.

Wing-back Reece James has even emerged as their top marksman with five in all competitions, and Chelsea have routed the likes of Norwich, Newcastle, Leicester and Juventus without their new star frontman.

However, Tuchel has dismissed suggestions his side might be better off without Lukaku.

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