Thomas Tuchel confirmed before the game that he is prepared to take a risk on the fitness of both Kovacic and N’Golo Kante as Chelsea go in search of a third piece of silverware this season.
With his side needing just a point to secure Champions League qualification, Tuchel has made it clear just how important the cup is to him.
Kovacic looked set to miss the Wembley showdown with Liverpool after suffering an ankle injury in Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Leeds. Tuchel said the midfielder would need a miracle to be involved, but further tests sparked hope he could start on Saturday.
Tuchel revealed the ankle injury suffered by Kovacic in the Carabao Cup final actually aided his recovery after Dan James’ X-rated challenge midweek.
The Chelsea manager said on Friday: “It’s pretty surprising to be in a situation where we can try it, but Mateo wants to try it. The medical department gave the green light to try it.
“The advantage is that the ligament is anyway torn from the last incident so there is no new injury but heavy pain, it was heavily swollen.
“We are hoping that maybe time is enough for him to make it. We will try in training and we will know more about it.”
While the Croatian is in the XI, Kante is on the bench having missed the last two games with a muscle problem.
Kante faced a late test to see if he can play, and he is among the substitutes along with Cesar Azpilicueta and Timo Werner with Trevoh Chalobah and Christian Pulisic preferred. Kai Havertz is absent.
“It is the moment to take a risk,” he added. “He is also trying. He tried yesterday in team training and trained more or less everything.
“Hopefully without a reaction. It was a reduced training session because of quite a long travel [time] and fatigue from travelling. It was not a high intensity training session.
“We will try today with him. He is keen to make it. Hopefully he makes it to training 100 percent so we can plan with him tomorrow. It would be good for us.”
Chelsea XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic, Lukaku.
Subs: Kepa, Kante, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Barkley, Ziyech, Azpilicueta, Sarr.