Double boost for Chelsea as Kovacic, Kante return for FA Cup final

Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante back fit to face Leicester City in English FA Cup final

Manager Thomas Tuchel says it is a “huge” FA Cup final boost for Chelsea to have Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante back fit to face Leicester City.

Croatia star Kovacic has missed nine matches with a hamstring problem but is now ready to return for Saturday’s Wembley showdown.

France World Cup-winner Kante was kept out of Wednesday’s 1-0 English Premier League (EPL) loss to Arsenal due to a painful Achilles issue.

But now, the Blues boss Tuchel confirmed on Friday both midfield men are ready to take on the Foxes.

“The whole group is available, Kova is with us again,” said Tuchel.

“It’s huge because Mateo has everything that we need in midfield. He has experience, power, acceleration, deceleration, he can dribble the ball and beat players.

“He’s fast, he has physical ability and he’s experienced in big games and in the Premier League.

“When we missed N’Golo and Mateo in the same match we lacked a lot of quality, energy and experience.

“Billy Gilmour did a huge job in both games but it’s not fair to compare him to these players because they have more experience and they are a step ahead in their development.

“It’s what we need in the key moments of the season. It’s big news for us that Kova is back, he has a huge impact in the dressing room around big matches.”

Kante formed a pivotal part of Leicester’s Premier League title win in 2015 and will now go up against his old club in Saturday’s Cup final.

The linchpin midfielder has been back to his very best under the German, with the Chelsea head coach delighted to have one of his chief lieutenants back in top condition.

“Yes, it’s huge,” said Tuchel. “We took the decision together, him, me and the medical team, to leave him out and give him this Arsenal match to rest and have treatment to his right Achilles.

“It was pain management. It’s not a huge injury, it’s nothing you need to be afraid of getting bigger. It was just there, it was a bit annoying, just pain management and pain treatment.

“So, he did all training sessions yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) full, no complaints. He will start tomorrow (Saturday) and very likely finish the game for us.”

Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday has left the Blues exposed in their quest for a top-four Premier League finish.

Tuchel’s men will face Leicester City again on Tuesday in a crucial league encounter.

The Blues boss accepts that the two quick-fire Foxes clashes could now prove the crux of the close to their season.

“These are two finals and we don’t think about anything other than the two finals,” said Tuchel.

“There’s the final for the Cup and the final for the top four.

“We missed the chance against Arsenal to be decisive, have the decisive advantage. So, now we have to cope with it, and first of all show the reaction at Wembley to have the upper hand on Tuesday. And this is what we are up for.”(dpa/NAN)