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Chelsea suffer key FA Cup final injury blow after Daniel James red card for Leeds

By Bobby Vincent

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel will now be sweating over the fitness of Mateo Kovacic ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final with Liverpool. The Croatian midfielder limped off in the first half of the Blues' clash with Leeds United on Wednesday night.

Kovacic, who started alongside Jorginho in the centre of Chelsea's midfield, was taken off early after being on the end of a horror tackle from Daniel James. The Leeds forward was shown a straight red card with a high challenge on Kovacic.

This is the last thing Tuchel would have wanted ahead of what is set to be Chelsea's biggest match of the season at Wembley. The midfielder could then be seen with his left ankle in heavy strapping when walking down the tunnel to receive more treatment on the problem.

READ MORE: Todd Boehly's priorities outlined after agreeing to takeover Chelsea from Roman Abramovich

Kovacic has been a key player for Chelsea this season and has arguably been their most consistent player in the central midfield position. Speaking about the midfielder last month, Tuchel was full of praise for his talents.

"He looks like a wonderkid in training in some exercises. On Tuesday he had an outstanding training session and is a fantastic character," Tuchel said.

"A lovely guy, a humble guy, and so interested in sports. He's so happy to train and deliver for the team. It's a true pleasure.

"Even at Real Madrid, I was aware of his talent, and I felt there was a next step coming. I'm very happy that he's my player and plays a lot this season. He is crucial to us on the pitch and off the pitch in the way he behaves."

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