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Champions League

Mateo Kovacic a major doubt for Real Madrid clash as Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel confirms injury recovery setback

MATEO KOVACIC is a major doubt for the Real Madrid second leg after suffering a setback in his recovery from injury.

The Chelsea and Croatia star, 26, has missed the last five games with a hamstring problem.

Mateo Kovacic is an injury doubt to face Real Madrid after suffering a recovery setback


Mateo Kovacic is an injury doubt to face Real Madrid after suffering a recovery setbackCredit: PA

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel ruled his beloved midfielder out of the Fulham match tomorrow after a tweak in training.

And Kovacic faces a race against time to face his former employers in the Champions League semi-finals.

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Antonio Rudiger is also out of the West London derby and therefore doubtful for the visit of Los Blancos.

The German said: “Unfortunately Kovacic is still injured. 

“He trained with us, but he’s still not fully confident, he felt something at the end of training. So he’s not available, unfortunately.

“All the others are available except for Toni Rudiger, who got injured in the last minute of the Madrid game. Everybody else is available.

“Before training today we thought that Kova had a big chance to join us latest for Madrid, maybe even for today. 

“So now we have a little setback, not a big one, with him.

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“I don’t want to be too negative, let’s see how he is tomorrow. For Toni, I’m quite positive for Wednesday.”

Kovacic made 109 Real Madrid appearances before his Stamford Bridge switch, initially on loan.

In 137 games in a Chelsea shirt, he has just two goals – including none in 39 this term.

Tuchel’s side earned a 1-1 draw away in Madrid on Tuesday, with the tie evenly poised ahead of Wednesday’s return leg.

N’Golo Kante put in a man-of-the-match performance alongside Jorginho.

And Tuchel was asked if he may rest one or both central midfielders at home to the Cottagers with an eye on the Champions League – with Billy Gilmour an option.

He added: “N’Golo feels very good, Jorgi looked very good and in training again today the guys are super professional, they know that we miss Kova a lot so I have the feeling Jorgi and N’Golo step up.

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“Gilmour looked very good today in training so I was quite impressed.

“The last decision is made today so in the evening, the afternoon or maybe tomorrow morning, but Billy is in the squad, he was very close to playing the last games some minutes so he is in good shape.”

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

Billy Gilmour could make a rare start if Thomas Tuchel decides to rest N'Golo Kante or Jorginho


Billy Gilmour could make a rare start if Thomas Tuchel decides to rest N’Golo Kante or JorginhoCredit: Getty

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