Chelsea are preparing to do battle with Manchester City for a place in this season’s FA Cup final.
For the second season in a row the Blues face a side from Manchester at the semi-final stage and will be hopeful of repeating last year’s 3-1 success over United to end City’s chances of an unprecedented quadruple.
However, Chelsea have suffered a major injury blow ahead of Saturday evening’s game with the news that Mateo Kovavic will not be available for selection.
“Mateo is unfortunately still out,” Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel revealed in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon. “He is feeling better but can’t be in the squad.
Since Tuchel’s appointment, Kovacic has been a regular in the midfield set-up which has provided great protection to those behind him in the defensive positions.
But his confirmed absence will leave the German tactician with a simple decision to make.
Judging by Tuchel’s team selections when Kovacic has not started under him – it’s possible that he thinks N’Golo Kante is better suited to partnering Jorginho in the engine room.
Or there could be a surprise start for wonderkid Billy Gilmour as both players are in contention.
“Both yes. We have the green light for N’Golo because we’ve had three days between games that make a huge difference,” Tuchel said.
In another injury blow, Tuchel has confirmed that he will be without centre-back Andreas Christensen for the big game at Wembley Stadium.
“And Andreas Christensen is out and can’t be in the squad,” the German added. “That is the situation.”
Just like with Kovacic, Tuchel has a couple of options to deal with the Dane’s absence as Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma pushing for a start at the heart of the Chelsea defence.
Zouma has filled in when Christensen has been rested by Tuchel this season, but that was when Thiago Silva was also unavailable through injury.
The Brazilian got the nod on Tuesday night against Porto and that might just be a hint as to what Tuchel is thinking in terms of his team selection against City.