Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic needs a “miracle” to be fit in time for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday after the Croatia international limped off in Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Leeds United, said manager Thomas Tuchel.
Kovacic was at the receiving end of a reckless tackle from Leeds winger Dan James, who was shown a straight red card for the 24th-minute challenge.
“I tell you as a coach and not as an expert, but for me it is very unlikely he will play in the cup final,” Tuchel told reporters.
“He tried to play another 15 minutes which was almost impossible, so now he has a swollen ankle and is in a lot of pain.”
The 28-year-old, who also missed three games due to an ankle problem last month, has been a key player for Chelsea this season, making 43 appearances in all competitions and contributing six assists.
“If he misses it I’m very disappointed – he was a clear starter. He is super hungry and determined and (was) excited to play this match,” added Tuchel.
“Of course, he is in fear now he will miss it. We will see. We need to wait. Maybe we have a miracle and we make it possible.”
Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku were on target at Elland Road as Chelsea bounced back from a minor slump to clinch their first win in four league games.
“We needed to step up, there was a reason why we conceded goals and we did this as a team,” said Tuchel. “It was nothing new that we did today but we did it on a much higher level of focus and discipline than in the last matches.”
Chelsea are third in the standings on 70 points, four ahead of Arsenal, who can close that gap with a win against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.