Chelsea are set to be without Mateo Kovacic for the FA Cup final on Saturday, as manager Thomas Tuchel said it would take a miracle for the Croatian to be fit to face Liverpool.
Kovacic was forced out of the win over Leeds on Wednesday with an ankle injury following Dan James’ horror tackle that earned the Whites midfielder a red card.
Tuchel said Kovacic is in a lot of pain with a swollen ankle, and is extremely unlikely to play a part at Wembley.
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“Mateo went off and he never goes off,” Tuchel said. “He has a swollen ankle and is in a lot of pain.
“I am not a doctor and we need to wait for the examinations, but it is very unlikely he can play. It is absolutely bad news for us.
“If he misses it, I am very disappointed because he was a clear starter. He is a key figure for us in midfield.
“He is super, super hungry and determined and excited to play these matches and of course he is in fear he will miss it.
“We will see. We need to wait. Maybe we have a miracle and we make it possible.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Kovacic at Elland Road, and he could be in line for a start against the Reds with Chelsea still having worries over the fitness of N’Golo Kante.
Tuchel, meanwhile, was relieved with the 3-0 win over Leeds after a difficult month.
The German’s side had lost five consecutive matches and they were beset by off-the-pitch problems and distractions.
Billionaire owner Roman Abramovich had put the club up for sale after being hit by sanctions from the British government, and while a proposed sale to Todd Boehly’s consortium appears close to going through, Tuchel had complained that it had taken his players’ eyes off the task in hand.
That was compounded by the inability to offer players new contracts, which means Antonio Rudiger is set to leave for Real Madrid and he may be joined by other players leaving on a free.
With a third place finish in doubt in the Premier League, a win over Leeds - who now look likely to be relegated - was a huge filip.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the manager said: "We needed a performance like that. We deserved to win. That's the best message. We were excellent right from the start and kept our focus and high intensity.
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"We cleared the air after the late equaliser against Wolves. We knew what was waiting. We had a lot of reason to trust ourselves. The players delivered. Full credit to them.
"We arrive [to the FA Cup final] with a clear mindset because we did what we needed to do this week. Good news."
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