Thomas Tuchel will be without a maximum of four Chelsea players for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday night at Wembley.
Chelsea make the short trip through the capital to play Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in their second meeting at Wembley this season following February’s Carabao Cup final, which Liverpool won on penalties.
Wembley has been a grim place for the Blues in recent seasons. They have lost the last two FA Cup finals and will not want a third successive final defeat in as many years this weekend.
Tuchel will need his entire team to be at their best, telling his team before the game: “AndYou have to be up to the task in this type of game.”
They will be without Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tuchel confirmed their expected absences.
But two players who could be in form are N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic. The latter came off with an ankle injury sustained against Leeds United in midweek and Tuchel is hopeful he will be available for selection.
He told reporters on Friday: “We tried today, actually. It’s pretty amazing to be in a situation where we can try, but Mateo wants to try. The medical department gave the green light to try. The ‘advantage’ is that the ligament is torn anyway from the last incident, so there is no new injury, but severe pain, he was very swollen. We hope that maybe time will be enough for him to make it. We will try it in two and a half hours of training and we will know more about it.
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“In the game, he was again very, very good and overall he stepped up this season again in his game. We have talked a lot about his qualities, about his personality. His dribbling, carrying the ball, pushing with it, is excellent. He is a top-level player, he played for Real Madrid for many years. He knows what it takes to put ego aside and serve the team. This is what it is. Fantastic guy, fantastic player. We miss him so much this season, some injuries. We missed him for several weeks. At the same time we miss Jorgi and N’golo, which cost us a bit. Unfortunately now he is so ambitious, he has this injury before the FA Cup final. He was excellent against Liverpool lately. We’ll try everything and see.”
Meanwhile, Kante was sidelined with an unknown issue, but also trained in the final session at Cobham on Friday. He is pushing and willing, and the final decision will be made on Saturday.
“He’s trying too” Tuchel added in his pre-match press conference.
“He tried yesterday at the team training and he trained more or less everything. Hopefully without a reaction. It was a reduced training session due to quite a long journey and travel fatigue. It was not a high intensity training session. We’ll try him today.” “He’s looking forward to it. Hopefully he’ll be 100 per cent in training so we can plan with him tomorrow, that would be good for us.”
But Tuchel knows that if there is ever a time to risk players, now is the business end of the season with Chelsea eyeing their first domestic silver piece since Tuchel’s arrival.
“It’s time to take a risk, yes.”
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