Thomas Tuchel has reported that Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante could both feature in tomorrow’s FA Cup final, indicating that this was the time of the season to take risks if they were able to be involved.
The duo were the central midfield pairing selected by Tuchel in our last Wembley final, which also came against Jurgen Klopp’s side and ended in defeat after a penalty shoot-out. They are expected to take part in our final training session before the final later this afternoon, after which the Chelsea head coach will take a decision on his starting line-up.
Kovacic limped off at Elland Road just half an hour into the contest, following a challenge by Dan James – a foul which was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Anthony Taylor.
Speaking in his penultimate Friday press conference of the season at Cobham, Tuchel provided an update on the midfielder’s chances of recovering in time for the big match.
‘We will try it today actually and see tomorrow, which is pretty surprising news that we are even in this situation, but Mateo wants to try it,’ said the boss.
‘The medical department gave us the green light to try it. The advantage is that the ligament is already torn from the last incident so there is no new injury but heavy pain and it’s heavily swollen so we’re hoping that maybe time is enough that he makes it.’
Tuchel also expanded on the importance of Kovacic against Liverpool’s high-pressing midfield, while praising his ability to work for the collective.
‘He was very good in the game [against Leeds] and in general he stepped up this season again in his game,’ he added. ‘His qualities and personality we’ve spoken a lot about. His dribbling and driving with the ball is excellent.
‘He’s a top team player so he knows what it takes to put the ego aside and serve the team. He’s a fantastic guy and a fantastic player who we missed too much this season.’
Meanwhile, Frenchman Kante has missed three matches with an injury sustained in the draw at Old Trafford and was similarly facing a race against time to be involved against the Reds.
‘He’s also trying and tried yesterday in team training and did more or less everything, hopefully now without a reaction,’ reported Tuchel. ‘It was a reduced training session because of the travel and fatigue so it was not a high-intensity training session but we will also try today with him.
‘He is keen to make it and hopefully he makes it to training 100 per cent. It will be crucial for us and it’s the moment to take risks.’
While Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell will not be available for the final, Tuchel has a decision to make up front and hinted that only one of Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku would lead the line for the Blues at Wembley.
‘I can play both, although they lacked a bit of a perfect fit together,’ he added. ‘It’s very likely that’s it’s one of the two but we will not give the line-up today.
‘Romelu played and scored lately, he did everything to stay on the pitch and it will be our final call tomorrow morning.’