Thomas Tuchel believes Edouard Mendy has already shown “huge improvement” in his battle to be fit for Saturday’s Champions League final.
Mendy suffered rib damage when colliding with the post as Bertrand Traore found the net in Aston Villa’s 2-1 Premier League win over Chelsea on Sunday. Senegal goalkeeper Mendy was forced out of the Villa Park clash at half-time, with Spain stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga joining the fray.
Chelsea boss Tuchel was relieved however to receive test results confirming Mendy had avoided any serious injury.
And now the 29-year-old faces a race against time to be fit for the Manchester City showdown in Porto.
“For Edou, maybe the update is that we still have hope that he joins training on Wednesday and he joins the group,” said Tuchel.
“He’s made a huge improvement in the management of pain.
“So we need a further update on Wednesday but we hope to have him back in training.
“Edou will play if he is fit, and if he is not fit on Wednesday we will try on Thursday, and on Friday, and be always reasonable and take the responsibility for this decision.
“At the same time we have trust if he cannot make it, because we have a strong guy on the bench in Kepa who can start.
“So now the race is on, we are very happy first of all, the images don’t show anything too serious.
“So every hour counts now, every day counts.
“And hopefully the team around Edou and he himself can do enough that he will be on the pitch. It would be a big boost for us.”
Meanwhile, Mateo Kovacic might boast three Champions League winners’ medals but will still break new ground by taking the field for Chelsea in Saturday’s final.
Croatia midfielder Kovacic featured across all of Real Madrid’s three straight Champions League triumphs between 2016 and 2018, but has still never played in a final.
Kovacic hoping to break final duck
The 27-year-old was an unused substitute in both the 4-1 win over Juventus in 2017 and 3-1 victory against Liverpool a year later.
So if and when he steps out against Manchester City in Porto on Saturday, he will break a personal duck – then quickly refocus on chasing the trophy.
“Obviously I was three years at Madrid and unfortunately I didn’t play in a final,” said Kovacic.
“It is never easy, but I played my part in that team, which was to be there and if somebody was injured or could not play, I was always there to help. That was my part there.
“Chelsea is a bit different. It would be huge for me to play in a final.
“When I left Madrid I said I would try my best to work very hard to one time reach the final and play, and thanks to God we are here.
“We’ll play a big game on Saturday, but in the end it is just important that the team wins.
“It is never important who will be the main figure or who will start the game, just the most important thing is the team.
“At Chelsea we showed we are a family, a team, and we will do that on Saturday – try to be a team and do our best to win the trophy.”
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