N’Golo Kante is facing a battle to be fully fit for Chelsea’s crucial Premier League finale at Villa Park on Sunday.
The Blues midfield maestro left the Stamford Bridge pitch in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Leicester City concerned about a possible hamstring injury.
Chelsea need to win against Aston Villa to guarantee a Champions League berth for next season
Head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed Kante was worried.
The German said: “N’Golo is not injured. He told me he felt his hamstrings and was worried that he would get injured if he continued to play. So we put Mateo Kovacic in and that was a risk because he was more or less on the bench for 20 minutes, but he played 60.
“We took some risks but it was the moment to take risks as it was a game of the highest importance at the end of the season. I am happy it worked out. Hopefully, Kante will come back as we are a different team without him. We compensated very well without him.”
The Blues’ win took them up to third place in the Premier League with Leicester or Liverpool ready to take advantage of any slip-up in the Midlands.
Tuchel has no other injury worries but must be concerned about the inability of Timo Werner to score a goal.
The German striker had two efforts ruled out on Tuesday – one for offside, the other for handball.
Both were avoidable mistakes which would have seen the west Londoners home and hosed. Instead, like the FA Cup Final defeat to the same opponent at the weekend, an inability to score leaves them open to a sucker punch goal which saw the Foxes lift the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
Chelsea Women were not victims to a sucker punch when they were hammered 4-0 to Barcelona in their Champions League final on Sunday in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The Blues went a goal down within two minutes and four down before half-time.
The second period was simply damage-limitation. The defeat means the WSL champions and EFL Cup winners have only the FA Cup left to win.
Vice-skipper Millie Bright was nevertheless bullish. She said: “Against these opponents, in these finals, you can’t have the start that we had. You can’t concede the early goals. We were unfortunate with the first one, with the deflection and the own goal.
“We needed to start the game like we do normally. I don’t think we presented ourselves as Chelsea in the first half and as soon as you give yourself that mountain to climb, it’s virtually impossible against a side like Barcelona.
“We’ve had a tremendous season. The journey to get to this final – beating Wolfsburg will probably be the top of it for me because they’ve beaten us for so many years.
“It’s always pushed us back in the Champions League and they’ve always knocked us out.
“It shows we are close. There’s work to be done to get to Barcelona’s level but I don’t think we are too far off. We have to make sure we do better when we come back next time, because we will be back.
“It’s a setback and from a setback, comes a bigger step forward and that’s what we’ll do.”
Last night, they faced Everton in the fifth round at Kingsmeadow – the last match of the season.
If they won, then their next round match will be at the beginning of next season.
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