N’Golo Kante has returned to Chelsea training ahead of the Blues FA Cup final clash against Liverpool at the weekend. The Frenchman was not in Thomas Tuchel’s squad for the win over Leeds on Wednesday after also missing clashes against Wolves and Everton.
Kante picked up his injury against Manchester United at Old Trafford and was substituted as a result, and Tuchel noted ahead of the trip to Elland Road that the 31-year-old was in contention to return, along with Jorginho. The Italian made it into the starting XI, that night, but Kante’s belated return will be seen as soon after Mateo Kovacic was forced off injured after a rash challenge from Dan James.
The Croatian midfielder is in a race to be fit for the match against Jurgen Klopp’s side but could not continue playing and saw his left ankle wrapped up and treated with ice after being substituted. Speaking following the match against Leeds, Tuchel was not confident that the 28-year-old would be able to return in time.
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The German coach said: “I tell you, not as a coach, not as an expert, but I think it’s very unlikely we see him [in the cup final]. Once Mateo goes out, he never goes out. He played in the semi-final of the FA Cup with the same injury and played another 15 minutes, which is almost impossible.
“He has a swollen ankle and is in a lot of pain. I’m not a doctor, and we need to wait for the examinations, but it’s very unlikely. It’s absolutely bad news on a perfect evening.”
The Blues boss said the side could still have a ‘miracle’ if the prognosis was better when Kovacic was assessed, and Friday will prove a significant day to see if Kovacic can follow in Kante’s footsteps.
The former Leicester midfielder appeared to be fulling involved in a session with his teammates that did not start the match against Leeds, going through some attacking and shooting drills and even showing a tidy finish. It is difficult to tell whether he will have the match fitness to start against Liverpool, however.