Thomas Tuchel says N’Golo Kante is ready to play for Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, and he could be joined in the centre of midfield by Billy Gilmour as Mateo Kovacic will be unavailable.
Kante missed the loss against West Brom with a hamstring injury, but was introduced as a late substitute in both of Chelsea’s fixtures against Porto and Crystal Palace before playing 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss against the Portuguese side in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
The 30-year-old will likely be called upon to start once more against Pep Guardiola’s side, with Tuchel revealing that the midfielder had been given “the green light” to play – but Kovacic will not be back for the match.
Tuchel said that the Croatian midfielder is feeling better after missing the second leg against Porto due to a hamstring injury picked up the day before the game in training, but will not be ready in time to face City. The manager stated that Gilmour would be an option to use in Kovacic’s place.
“Both yes,” Tuchel said when asked whether Kante and Gilmour could both play a part against Manchester City.
“We have the green light for N’Golo because we’ve had three days between games that make a huge difference.
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“Mateo is unfortunately still out. He is feeling better but can’t be in the squad. And Andreas Christensen is out and can’t be in the squad. That is the situation.”
It had looked like Gilmour would be leaving the club in January on a loan move following Tuchel’s arrival, but the manager decided he wanted a closer look at the Scotland Under-21 international.
He stayed at Chelsea for the remainder of the 2020/21 season, but has only made three further appearances for the Blues since the new manager’s arrival – all of which came in the FA Cup.