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Chelsea boss Tuchel to restrict Kante's game-time amid injury concerns

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has warned N'Golo Kante's game-time will be restricted until after this month's international break to ensure he is fully fit for the run-in.

The 29-year-old started only his fourth Premier League game of the calendar year in Thursday's 1-0 win at Liverpool following persistent hamstring problems.

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Tuchel is a huge admirer of Kante having previously explored the possibility of signing the midfielder during his time at Paris Saint-Germain and will avoid overloading him in upcoming games against Everton, Leeds United, Atletico Madrid and Sheffield United to guard against further injury.

"It was clear from the first second of training what this guy is capable of doing," Tuchel said of Kante. "It's unbelievable. You see his intensity in the physical report after matches and you think they may have tracked two players and put it into the same sheet.

"He's unbelievable in what he delivers in terms of intensity, in terms of ball recoveries, his devotion to the group is world-class, at the highest level. I am very, very happy he is in our squad. He has come from an injury so he will not play now every 90 minutes before the international break.

"We will manage him and we do that with the physical coaches. We have to take care that he is fit until the international break and when he comes back we hope he has the momentum where can rely on him in every game. I'm very happy to have him, Jorginho and Kova [Mateo Kovacic] in defensive midfield, this is exactly the level we need to win games. So I am super happy with all of them."

The international break begins on March 22 and Tuchel added his name to the growing list of managers concerned by quarantine rules surrounding players returning from countries on the UK's COVID-19 Red List.

Any player re-entering the UK from one of 33 nations will have to self-isolate, leading to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and his Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer voicing doubts over player availability with FIFA granting clubs the power to block call-ups.

"I am absolutely worried because my target is to play Premier League and if I have players in quarantine I cannot build a group that we want," Tuchel added. "This is the risk and I am absolutely worried about this situation.

"But I am also sure that the club knows how to handle it. If it maybe is the consequence that the players cannot go then this is the consequence. This situation is extraordinary. We have to adapt and we will do this as a club and we will take these decisions when the decisions are taken. We are very concerned about the situation."