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Mateo Kovacic’s FA Cup final hopes not over despite ankle injury

Mateo Kovacic, centre, reacts after being injured by Dan James’ tackle in Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Leeds (Mike Egerton/PA)
Mateo Kovacic, centre, reacts after being injured by Dan James’ tackle in Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Leeds (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mateo Kovacic could yet have a surprise chance to prove his FA Cup final fitness, the PA news agency understands.

The Croatia midfielder hobbled out of Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Leeds on Wednesday night after suffering a nasty ankle injury in the challenge that saw Dan James sent off.

Leeds forward James caught Kovacic on the shin, with the 28-year-old’s ankle turning under.

A frustrated Blues boss Thomas Tuchel admitted after the Elland Road win that Kovacic would be a long-shot to feature in Saturday’s FA Cup final showdown with Liverpool at Wembley.

Kovacic is understood to have avoided any serious injury, however, and could even still be fit in time for Saturday’s repeat of February’s Carabao Cup final.

The former Real Madrid midfielder is thought to be in the running to train on Friday, where he would then gauge the chances of featuring at Wembley.

Kovacic has proved a pivotal influence on Chelsea this term and his availability would represent a major boost to the Blues should he now win his fitness race.

Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic suffered an ankle injury against Leeds
Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic suffered an ankle injury against Leeds (Mike Egerton/PA).

N’Golo Kante missed Chelsea’s trip to Leeds having carried a knock in recent weeks, while Jorginho had to shake off his own minor issue to feature in midweek.

Chelsea’s defensive midfield stocks would be tested for the Reds clash should Kovacic fail to recover in time.

But, from what appeared an almost certain no-go straight after the win at Leeds, the picture has now shifted somewhat.

Kovacic was spotted on the bench at Leeds heavily icing his leg and ankle, having been replaced after the challenge from James.

Straight after Chelsea’s vital Premier League win, Tuchel revealed his concerns on Kovacic’s situation.

“He has a swollen ankle and is in a lot of pain,” said Tuchel.

“For me like I say, I’m not a doctor and we need to wait for the examinations, but it’s very unlikely that he can play. It’s absolutely bad news for us on a perfect evening.

“If he misses it I’m very disappointed because he was a clear starter.”

Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku all hit the net as Chelsea subdued relegation-battling Leeds on Wednesday, returning to form after a run of three matches without a win.

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