Antonio Rudiger may have dropped a big hint about starting Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.
The Germany international was absent for Saturday’s victory over Fulham, but Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel did not specify what the injury was.
Except that Rudiger sustained it during the closing stages of last week’s first-leg which Chelsea drew 1-1.
However, it is now evident that it was a facial injury that forced him to miss out against the Cottagers, with Tuchel confirming in his pre-match press conference that the 28-year-old is available for selection against Real Madrid, albeit by sporting a mask on his face.
“I think that Toni [Rudiger] will play with a mask, because he trained yesterday [Monday] in a mask,” Tuchel told reporters.
Those comments would all but confirm that Rudiger is in line to reclaim his place in Tuchel’s starting XI for the visit of Los Blancos to Stamford Bridge.
And if his social media activity is anything to go by, the centre-back is looking forward to the big game.
As seen in the image below, taking to Instagram, Rudiger has done his best to hype up the big game in west London which could suggest he’s ready to play through the pain barrier to help Chelsea reach the Champions League final.
Uploading a picture of him in a training session at Cobham to his Instagram stories, Rudiger had a simple three-word message.
“Ready for the battle,” he wrote.
The likes of Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Ben Chilwell have done similar whenever they’ve been included in a Chelsea starting XI this season.
And they too are in contention to start this evening.
The Blues go into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Fulham in the Premier League, whilst Real Madrid won by the same scoreline in their La Liga clash with Osasuna.
Should Rudiger earn an immediate recall, he could play a key role in setting up an all-English final against Manchester City on May 29 at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Turkey.
Following a 1-1 draw in Spain last week, a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge will be enough to book Chelsea’s spot in a third Champions League final by virtue of the away goals rule.
With Rudiger in the team, the Blues have kept numerous clean sheets under Tuchel and one more would be worth its weight in gold.