Injury News: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel expects Mateo Kovacic to miss FA Cup final vs Liverpool after Daniel James tackle
Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic was at the end of a horrific tackle from Leeds United winger Daniel James, just days before the FA Cup final encounter vs Liverpool. It was high, it seemed intentional, and his studs caught Kovacic clean on his calf.
To make matters worse for the ex-Manchester United wideman, it was right in front of the referee, who produced a straight red card. Kovacic continued for a few more minutes, playing against the backdrop of Leeds supporters giving him a hard time, but had to be taken off at the half-hour mark.
Chelsea didn’t miss him on the day, as they ran out 3-0 winners. But they may very well miss him in the FA Cup final when they take on Liverpool. Thomas Tuchel, after the game (h/t football.london), claimed it was very unlikely that the Croatian star plays against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds on Saturday.
“I tell you not as a coach, not as an expert but I think it’s very unlikely we see him [in the cup final]. Once Mateo goes out, he never goes out, he played in the semi-final of the FA Cup with the same injury and played another 15 minutes which is almost impossible.”
The German manager added that the player has a swollen ankle which has put the player in a ‘lot of pain’. Kovacic is one of his main men in midfield and his disappointment is understood.
“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.”
Those who have seen the former Real Madrid man play would know all about his skill set. He can pass, dribble out of tight areas, and is an asset for the Blues off the ball. Missing him against Liverpool would really be a big blow for Tuchel.
He featured for the Blues in all three games they have played against us this season. Kovacic even scored a crucial goal for his team in the 2-2 league draw at Stamford Bridge- one which we have lived to regret with Manchester City refusing to drop points in the title race in recent weeks.
It perhaps balances out Fabinho’s absence for the Reds. The Brazilian superstar hobbled off the pitch against Aston Villa in the first half as well, and has been diagnosed with a hamstring injury in the latest scan, as per The Times.
He is set to miss the showpiece occasion at Wembley but has a chance to make a comeback for the UEFA Champions League final. The Reds can expect to see Jordan Henderson in his place while the Blues could come to rely on Jorginho and perhaps N’Golo Kante.
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Tuchel claimed that it was touch and go for the Frenchman to be involved against Leeds, but we did not see him in the matchday squad. That means he may well be closer to a return against the Reds this weekend.