Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted it’s ‘very unlikely’ Mateo Kovacic are going to be fit Saturday’s FA final after he was forced off injured against Leeds.
The midfielder was the victim of a horror tackle from Dan James just 24 minutes into the 3-0 victory for his side. The Leeds man flew in and planted his studs on the Croatians shin, together with his ankle turning under the impact of the challenge.
James was shown a straight red card and although Kovacic attempted to play on, he eventually went down again and was withdrawn on the half-hour mark. The 28-year-old was seen walking down the tunnel with heavy strapping on his ankle at full-time.
Speaking after the match, Chelsea boss Tuchel revealed his player was ‘in tons of pain’ and was highly doubtful for the final against Liverpool on Saturday.
“I tell you not as a teacher and not as an expert except for me it’s impossible [Kovacic are going to be fit],” he said.
“He played within the Carabao final and therefore the semi-final of the FA Cup with an equivalent injury and he tried to play more minutes here, but it had been almost impossible so he came off and he features a swollen ankle and is during a lot of pain.
“We got to await the examination but it’s impossible which is completely bad news for us in fact .”
He added: “If he misses it I’m very disappointed because he was a transparent starter. If you check out the standard today with Jorgi and him in central midfield once we played eleven against eleven, it had been a really strong start. he’s a key figure for us in midfield.”
Tuchel could have a variety headache in midfield with N’Golo Kante also doubtful. The Frenchman missed the trip to Leeds.
Speaking on his fitness, Tuchel said: “I am unsure [if he are going to be fit FA Cup final]. Maybe i do know more tomorrow. the simplest chance for him to be ready for Saturday is Friday. it’s extremely close what we do here. He wasn’t in team training [on Tuesday]. we’ve to ascertain .”
Chelsea were comfortable 3-0 winners at Elland Road, with Mason Mount opening the scoring early by rounding off a fine team move with a superb finish. Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku made the sport safe within the last half following James’ dismissal.