Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Mateo Kovacic is out of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
The Croatian will remain out this weekend with the Blues preparing to face top four rivals West Ham.
But the German coach provided an update on the midfielder, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury in recent weeks.
“Me personally, I hope for Fulham [on 1 May],” Tuchel revealed in his pre-match press conference. “Don’t take it for granted, or that it is medical advice, it’s just my personal opinion.
“I think it’s maybe possible to be back against Fulham, between the Madrid games. I think Madrid could be close, he’s not trained with the team, to be realistic, tomorrow is a game, then two days to prepare for Madrid, without training, it will not happen, hopefully Fulham is a realistic target.”
Kovacic last played for the Blues against Crystal Palace on 10 April and has since missed matches against Porto, Man City and Brighton.
But Tuchel’s optimism means Kovacic could be available for the vital second leg of the semi-final against Los Blancos, where both teams will battle it out on 5 May for a place in this season’s final.
Tuchel also confirmed that Edouard Mendy will start for the Blues against West Ham after Kepa Arrizabalaga started both the Carabao Cup semi-final against Man City and the Premier League game against Brighton midweek.
“Mendy is in goal [against West Ham],” Tuchel confirmed. “The change was made for Kepa for the cup game and even before the cup game, we decided he would stay one more game after Man City, to feel the reward and the rhythm.”
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