Romelu Lukaku decision, Callum Hudson-Odoi call – Chelsea’s predicted starting XI vs Aston Villa – Football.London

It’s Boxing Day and Chelsea are making the trip up to Aston Villa looking to get back to winning ways after the 0-0 draw with Wolves in their last Premier League outing.

The Blues squad has been stretched by a combination of Covid-19 and injury issues of late but Thomas Tuchel might be able to welcome some of his stars back at Villa Park.

Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both returned to training in recent days after recovering from positive tests that saw the duo miss Chelsea’s last three matches.

Tuchel is sure to make changes to the side that took on Brentford after making eight switches for the Carabao Cup clash.

Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva were both rested entirely for that game and did not even feature in the squad so they should immediately return to the team.

Antonio Rudiger sat on the bench for the fixture and will also come straight back into the starting XI.

The final place in the back three is between Cesar Azpilicueta, Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen.

The latter has returned to training but is suffering from lower back pain and has required an injection. It remains to be seen whether he could get through the fixture, and it seems more likely he might be managed through this period

Azpilicueta has started the Blues’ last five games and may be a due a rest, and Chalobah returned from injury to pick up a knock against Wolves before completing 90 minutes against Brentford. At this time of year, there isn’t an ideal option but after the 22-year-old’s impressive outing against the Bees he should get the nod. They will be flanked by Reece James and Marcos Alonso.

N’Golo Kante is set to start after an electric cameo in the Carabao Cup. Tuchel highlighted how special the French World Cup winner is, having convinced the German coach to let him feature.

Jorginho replaced Mateo Kovacic in Wednesday’s clash with both earning 45 minutes on the pitch after not featuring against Wolves. The former Napoli star’s fitness is perhaps more sure however.

Kovacic will be suited to a place on the bench after he made his first start since returning from Covid-19 against Brentford.

Mason Mount feels the only sure-fire selection in Chelsea’s front three.

Hakim Ziyech was forced off injured against Wolves and Tuchel appeared to suggest the turnaround may be too quick to take on Steven Gerrard’s side.

Harvey Vale and Jude Soonsup-Bell showed some impressive combinations against Brentford and along with a number of other development squad stars have remained with Chelsea’s first team in training.

After being afforded minutes from the bench Christian Pulisic seems likely to start. Where he is the focal point of the Blues attack will depend on whether Hudson-Odoi or Lukaku are deemed fit enough to start.

Tuchel will certainly be left with some difficult decisions.

Predicted XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi.

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