FA CUP: Chelsea likely to be without “clear starter” for FA Cup final

 

After Liverpool were handed a midfield blow for Saturday’s FA Cup final, Chelsea was dealt a similar hand of cards with “clear starter” Mateo Kovacic expected to miss out at Wembley.

The Reds will be without Fabinho for Saturday’s cup final after sustaining a hamstring strain at Aston Villa, leaving him in a race to be fit for the Champions League final on May 28.

It’s a blow to Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield and he is not to be alone in counting his midfield losses from midweek as Thomas Tuchel watched on as Kovacic was forced off at Leeds on Wednesday.

Kovacic had to be withdrawn after just 30 minutes as he could not carry on after taking a blow to his ankle after a reckless tackle from Dan James, who was shown a straight red card.

Tuchel confirmed the ankle was swollen and the Croatian in “a lot of pain” after Chelsea‘s 3-0 win, the Blues’ first victory in four games, with Kovacic now needing “a miracle” to feature at Wembley.

“I tell you not as a coach, not as an expert but I think it’s very unlikely we see him [in the FA Cup final],” Tuchel told reporters.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 28, 2021: Chelsea's Mateo Kova?i? (R) and Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Once Mateo goes out, he never goes out, he played in the semi-final of the FA Cup with the same injury and tried to play another 15 minutes, which is almost impossible.

“He has a swollen ankle and is in a lot of pain. I’m not a doctor and we need to wait for the examinations, but it’s very unlikely. It’s absolutely bad news on a perfect evening.

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“If he misses it, I’m very disappointed because he was a clear starter,” Tuchel continued. “If you look at the quality with him and Jorgi [Jorginho] in the centre of midfield when it was 11 against 11.

“It was a strong start and he is a key figure for us. He played against Liverpool in both of the last matches from the beginning, if I remember right, and was always very strong.

He’s super, super hungry, determined and excited to play these matches. He’s in fear now that he will miss it, we will see. Maybe we have a miracle and it will be possible.”

Along with Kovacic, Chelsea are also sweating on the return of N’Golo Kante, who has missed their last three games due to injury – leaving a number of midfield unknowns for both sides at Wembley.

For Liverpool, one of Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and James Milner are likely to get the nod alongside Jordan Henderson and Thiago following Fabinho‘s hamstring injury.

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