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Rival Watch: Mateo Kovacic Doubtful for FA Cup Final

The Croatian was on the receiving end of a red card challenge from Leeds United’s Dan James.

Leeds United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Just as Liverpool FC will be without Fabinho for this Saturday’s FA Cup final, Chelsea FC are facing a potential absence of their own in midfielder Mateo Kovacic. He is suffering an ankle injury following a challenge by Daniel James, which saw the Leeds United forward get red-carded in a 3-0 defeat at Elland Road.

And with less than 72 hours to recover before the final on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel fears that Kovacic is unlikely to recover in time.

“I tell you not as a coach and not as an expert, but for me it is very unlikely. It was a swollen ankle and he is in a lot of pain. For me, 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 on a perfect evening.”

“If he misses it I’m very disappointed because he was a clear starter. If you look at the quality today also with Jorgi (Jorginho) and him in central midfield when we played 11 against 11, it was a very strong start. He is a key figure for us in midfield. He played against Liverpool, I think both matches from the beginning and was very strong.”

It was Ruben Loftus-Cheek who took to the field to replace Kovacic. Meanwhile, N’Golo Kante, who has been out for a while with an injury, was reportedly set to make his return in that Leeds game but did not feature.