Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel believes Antonio Rudiger will be fit to face Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night but Mateo Kovacic remains a serious doubt.
Rudiger did not feature in the Blues’ 2-0 win against Fulham this afternoon having suffered a facial injury in the first leg against Los Blancos, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Kovacic, meanwhile, has been absent for almost three weeks having injured his hamstring ahead of Chelsea’s Champions quarter-final second leg against Porto.
Tuchel also revealed prior to the victory over Fulham that there were fitness concerns over Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante. Mason Mount also suffered a nasty fall against the Cottagers and was replaced in the second half.
The Blues boss was asked after the contest at Stamford Bridge for a fitness update on those who didn’t start or feature, and was also questioned as to whether the injury sustained by Mount had the potential to rule him out of Wednesday’s game.
He told Sky Sports: “I hope Mason’s [knock] isn’t a big thing and we took him off so hopefully, he can fully recover for Real Madrid.
“I think Toni [Rudiger] can play with a mask and everyone else who was on the bench [against Fulham] will be totally fit for Wednesday. Mateo [Kovacic] will maybe be too close but we still have hope.”
Chelsea were not necessarily scintillating at Stamford Bridge today but they got the job done against Fulham, who are almost certain to now fall back into the Championship.
Kai Havertz struck both goals in the victory and Tuchel was delighted with the attitude and professionalism shown by his side.
“I’m very proud because in between two big games, semi-finals, it’s so hard to be full-on,” Tuchel explained. “We knew that Fulham give everybody a hard time, you do not find matches in which their opponents have played brilliant football.
“They make you underperform, work hard, suffer. You can’t get confused by the table because they’re near the bottom, absolutely not. That’s why I have the highest respect for what we did today.
“It was tough for us physically but we hung in the game, created some chances, and could’ve decided the match early on. It was a tough one but a very important win and that’s the best situation to arrive in on Wednesday.”