Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could make his debut for Chelsea in Tuesday’s opening Champions League group game at Dinamo Zagreb despite suffering a fractured jaw during a home invasion.
Chelsea made a deadline-beating swoop for Aubameyang last week, signing the forward on a two-year contract from Barcelona just months after he left Arsenal.
The 33-year-old missed Chelsea’s controversial 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday but has travelled with the squad to Croatia.
“Auba is very ambitious, he’s very focused and he’s hungry to play for us, and he is hungry to prove a point. That’s why he’s here,” Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters on Monday.
Aubameyang will be fitted with a custom-made mask to protect his jaw that was broken during an assault by a group of four men who broke into his home near Barcelona and threatened him with firearms.
“If an issue comes up with the mask today we will not put him in of course, but there was no issue for him yesterday and I hope there will not be an issue today,” said Tuchel.
“If he is ready to start he cannot play 90 minutes so it is on us to take a decision how we manage the minutes.
“That he needs minutes to get his full fitness is clear so it’s on us to find the solution if he is on the bench or if he starts.”
Switzerland midfielder Denis Zakaria is also in line for his first Chelsea appearance following his arrival on loan from Juventus.
However N’Golo Kante is still sidelined by a hamstring problem, while veteran centre-back Thiago Silva has been rested for the trip.
“We decided with Thiago that he will have a break from travelling and from the stress after he has played every minute so far in very intense matches,” explained Tuchel.
“It was the moment to give him a break instead of putting him on the bench and he has to travel. He can take care of his recovery.”