England reached their first-ever European Championship final with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday evening.
An extra time strike from talisman Harry Kane sealed the Three Lions a place in their first major final since 1966, after Simon Kjaer’s own-goal had brought England level following Mikkel Damsgaard’s stunning free-kick to hand Denmark the lead on the half hour mark.
England’s progression to the final, which will see them face Roberto Mancini’s Italy on Sunday evening, has seen Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel robbed of more pre-season time with Blues trio Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, not that he could possibly be angry with the experience they will have learned from the last few weeks.
Once England’s tournament does come to an end on Sunday evening, the aforementioned trio will be granted some time off to recharge the batteries ahead of getting themselves set for the new Premier League campaign.
But whilst James, Chilwell and Mount will all be hoping to enjoy their period of leave, the Blues will be hoping to have Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen making a swift return to action after going off injured on Wednesday evening.
The 25-year-old was forced off with 79 minutes on the clock after going to ground. At this moment in time, the extent of the injury has not been confirmed, but it could mean that he will take a little while longer to get back in the saddle upon his return to Cobham – the Blues’ training ground – after a holiday of his own.
Should Christensen’s injury prove to be one that requires a spell on the sidelines, or certainly one that denies him starting pre-season training as early as he would like, it could leave Tuchel facing a problem, partly because Brazilian defender Thiago Silva has also been in action on the international stage.
Silva is currently away with the Brazil squad at the Copa America, and like James, Chilwell and Mount, has a final to look forward to on Sunday, as they face Argentina.
Like the English trio, following the final, which Silva will be hoping to captain Brazil to victory in, the defender will be granted a period of holiday to rest up and recharge the batteries before reporting back for pre-season training.
It is likely that it will be the very end of July, maybe even early-August, before he is back at Cobham, meaning if he is not at full tilt for the start of the season – which officially begins on August 11 for the Blues when they face Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup final -Tuchel could face a centre-back problem, especially if Christensen is struggling with his injury.
Should both Christensen and Silva be struggling for strong fitness levels during the early stages of the campaign, who could Tuchel turn to in the hope that Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma have some support and competition for places?
Well, even though the Blues have been tipped to splash out big sums of money on a new central-defender this summer, with the likes of Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule, Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Marquinhos of Paris Saint-Germain all being linked with moves to west London, Tuchel may already have the answer to his conundrum staring right in front of him.
The answer could well be young defender Marc Guehi. Recently returning to west London following a season long-loan spell at Swansea City where he helped the Swans reach the Championship Play-Off Final in May, the 20-year-old will be hoping to make the step-up into the first-team squad this forthcoming season and creep into Tuchel’s thoughts.
He was fantastic during his time in south Wales and certainly proved himself as somebody who can be a future star at Premier League level.
But could he make that step as early as next month? If former Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard’s verdict is anything to go by, it is most certainly possible. That is because Lampard, who was sacked by the Blues back in January, handed Guehi his first-team debut at Stamford Bridge in September 2019, playing the full 90 minutes of a 7-1 hammering of Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup.
Chelsea’s reward for beating the now non-league side was a clash with Manchester United, and Lampard opted to include Guehi in the side again. Although the Blues were beaten 2-1 that evening, Lampard was full of praise for the young central-defender, alongside fellow youngster Billy Gilmour, and waxed lyrical about his showing.
“I thought Billy [Gilmour] and Marc Guehi were both really good, Marc was as comfortable as anything,” Lampard told BBC Radio 5 Live after the match.
“I’ve come away from tonight – obviously, we don’t want to lose and we know where this is in the competition – but at the same time, there’s lots of positives.
“In the bigger picture, Marc Guehi’s performance showed that he’s more than comfortable at this level and Billy the same, he was bright.”
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Although one performance cannot provide enough sufficient evidence to suggest that Guehi would be able to perform at such a high standard consistently at that level, the fact that Lampard trusted him enough to face Manchester United and say that he was “comfortable at this level” acts as a promising statement.
With his performances for Swansea during the 2020/21 campaign speaking for themselves, with the defender averaging a very impressive 1.6 interceptions, 1.7 tackles and 2.7 clearances per game, it highlights just how big a future he could have, especially when Lampard liked what he saw from him as well.
Although it is unlikely that he will become a first-team regular throughout the forthcoming season, it should be advised that Tuchel has a close look at him during pre-season, especially if he is going to be light on options at the start of the campaign.