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‘We are in trouble’: Kante losing fitness race for Europa League final

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Improving, but not quickly enough

Previews - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

With 24 hours to go until kickoff in the Europa League final, N’Golo Kante’s status remains doubtful. He’s improving, but not quite fast enough. The knee injury he suffered over the weekend is not catastrophic, but is severe enough to require several days of rest, rehab, recovery. Unfortunately, we do not have that much time.

In his press conference in Baku today, Maurizio Sarri gave an update on this problem, not sounding very confident of a positive outcome.

“I don’t know. Kante had a little problem on Saturday. A very little problem within his knee. The problem is the timing because we had only four days. We are trying. We are trying. It’s not really a very serious injury. We have the problem of the three or four days to try and recover him. At the moment we don’t know. We will try. We will try to the last moment, so we will try tomorrow. But we don’t know at the moment.”

“I think it’s 50-50 at the moment. 50-50. Yesterday, 60-40 for ‘no’. Today 50-50. He was a little bit better this morning. But 50-50.”

“We are in trouble with the midfielders. At the moment we have only three midfielders for three positions, so we are in trouble. For us, N’Golo is really very important. He is the only defensive midfielder that we have, so for us he is really very important. We are trying to recover him. We will try tomorrow morning. I hope to recover him because I know very well that, without N’Golo, for us it’s a problem.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London

With Ruben Loftus-Cheek already out for a significant length of time after Achilles surgery, Chelsea are likely to start Wednesday night’s showdown with Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic flanking Jorginho in the center of Sarri’s 4-3-3 setup. The only other midfield options are youngster Conor Gallagher and George McEachran.

Time for someone to be a hero.

Kante spent Tuesday’s training working away from the rest of the first-team, under the close supervision of first-team doctor Paco Biosca.