Dan James’ reckless challenge on Mateo Kovačić last night resulted in neither player being able to finish out the game, and with James set to banned for the next three games and Kovačić feared to have suffered a “major injury”, there was a good chance that neither would play again this season.
Fortunately, we have a couple reports today that Kova may have avoided serious injury. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to play against just 48 hours from now as we take on Liverpool at Wembley in the FA Cup final.
Even minor ankle sprains can take days if not weeks, let alone sprains that looked as bad as this looked on replays yesterday — especially as it’s the same ankle as Kovačić had just spent two weeks rehabbing after spraining it in the FA Cup semifinal against Crystal Palace in mid-April.
With Kova hobbling, N’Golo Kanté having missed our last three games, and Jorginho having just returned from injury, it’s historically oft-injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek who’s been the most durable and available of late, which is fairly ironic. As things stand, he’s set to start on Saturday, which, weirdly enough, would be his first minutes for Chelsea in a final since the 2019 League Cup against Manchester City. He’s been injured or sat on the bench or out on loan for all eight (8!) of our cup finals since.
It should be noted that we’re not the only ones dealing with injury issues, as key man Fabinho, who leads all Liverpool midfielders in minutes, will also miss the final.