Thomas Tuchel has suggested he is willing to roll the dice on the fitness of midfielders Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante in the FA Cup final on Saturday – despite the former having a torn ankle ligament.
Chelsea will face Liverpool at Wembley in what is a fourth FA Cup final in five years for the Blues and their only chance of silverware this season.
Tuchel has a few selection issues going into the game, with two of his first-choice midfielders doubtful for the showpiece event.
Kovacic was left in agony by a horror tackle from Leeds’ Dan James in midweek, with his ankle buckling under the impact of the challenge, while Kante has been out since late April with an unspecified injury.
Speaking in a pre-cup final press conference on Friday, Chelsea head coach Tuchel revealed Kovacic has been playing with a torn ankle ligament which has swelled up again following James’ challenge.
“We will try it today [in training], which is pretty surprising that we are even in the situation to try it, but Mateo wants to try it, and the medical department gave the green light to try it,” Tuchel said.
“The advantage is the ligament is already torn from the last incident but there is heavy pain, heavily swollen. We’re hoping that maybe there is enough time for him to make it. We will try everything and then see tomorrow.”
Tuchel moved to allay fears that the ligament tear might require surgery, adding: “No. It meant that he had high mobility, that’s how I understood it, helped now to escape a big injury.”
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On Kante’s chances of featuring, Tuchel added: “N’Golo is also trying. He trained yesterday, hopefully now without a reaction. It was a reduced training due to travel, it was not high intensity. He would be crucial for us.”
When asked if he would be willing to roll the dice if either player was only 70% fit, the German said: “It’s the moments to take risks.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi remains out for Chelsea with an Achilles injury, while Ben Chilwell is a long-term absentee as he recovers from surgery on a damaged ACL.