Chelsea have two players who can solve Thomas Tuchel problem and save millions in January

In pictures: Aston Villa v Chelsea

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel could turn to two internal solutions amid fears that Ben Chilwell will miss the remainder of the season. In November, the 25-year-old suffered a serious knee injury against Juventus, which could be his final appearance of the 2021/22 campaign.

On Tuesday, Chelsea released a statement confirming Chilwell’s rehabilitation hasn’t gone as planned, and he’ll therefore require surgery.

It read: “After a knee injury in the match against Juventus, the Chelsea medical department, in collaboration with their knee specialist, took the decision to attempt a conservative rehab approach.

“Unfortunately, Ben was unable to progress, and so collectively, the decision has been taken to proceed this week with a surgical repair.”

The news will come as a worry to Tuchel, who currently only has one natural left-wing-back in his first-team squad.

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Marcos Alonso is a solid option as the German boss’ first-choice left-back, but Chelsea have games approaching thick and fast.

The Blues are still in contention to win all four major trophies – the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

And therefore, Alonso, 31, won’t be available to play in every game, leaving Tuchel with a dilemma.

Atletico Madrid loanee Saul Niguez has slotted in on occasions this season, but he hasn’t looked comfortable even whilst operating in his natural central midfield role, nevermind out of position.

So, what now? Well, Tuchel has two choices. Chelsea could enter the transfer market for a new left-back, potentially Alonso’s long-term successor.

Everton’s Lucas Digne could be available after falling out of favour under Rafa Benitez, whist the Blues have also been linked to AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez.

However, Tuchel could also look at recalling either Emerson Palmieri, currently on loan at Lyon, or Ian Maatsen, who’s enjoying a temporary stint at Coventry City.

Emerson has made 71 appearances for Chelsea since his 2017 arrival and has largely been Alonso’s backup at Stamford Bridge.

He’s by no means a bad option to have, though, and started for Italy in their Euro 2020 final triumph over England in the summer.

The 27-year-old could be Tuchel’s first choice, given he can return to the club without worries that his development will be tarnished by decreased game time.

But Maatsen, 19, has been mightily impressive at Coventry, helping Mark Robins side push for promotion from the Championship.

His form has been somewhat reminiscent of how Reece James performed on loan at Wigan, the right-back now one of Chelsea’s most influential players.

Chelsea’s decision will soon become clear with cup and league fixtures flying left, right and centre, but Tuchel needs reinforcements, and he needs them quick.

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