Soccer-Fit-again Kante, Kovacic boost Chelsea ahead of Leicester final

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United v Chelsea - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 24, 2021 Chelsea's N'Golo Kante in action with West Ham United's Jesse Lingard Pool via REUTERS/Alastair Grant

(Reuters) - Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante has overcome a minor Achilles problem and will start Saturday's FA Cup final against Leicester City, manager Thomas Tuchel said on Friday.

Kante was left out of Wednesday's 1-0 Premier League defeat by Arsenal as a precaution and Tuchel said he is hopeful that the influential Frenchman can play the full 90 minutes at Wembley Stadium.

"We took the decision together to leave him out against Arsenal and give him treatment. It was pain management, not a huge injury," Tuchel told reporters.

"It was nothing to be afraid of getting bigger. He trained yesterday and today fully, no complaints. He'll start tomorrow and hopefully finish the game for us."

World Cup-winner Kante produced man-of-the-match displays in both legs of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and has been key to their resurgence under Tuchel.

Chelsea face Manchester City in the final of Europe's elite club competition on May 29.

Tuchel will also welcome back midfielder Mateo Kovacic for the run-in following a hamstring issue.

"It's huge because Mateo has everything we need in midfield: experience, power, can beat players, physical ability... and he has played big games in the Premier League," Tuchel said.

"When we missed N'Golo and Mateo we lacked quality, energy and experience... It's big news that Kova is back because he's a big guy in the dressing room around important matches."

After Saturday's meeting, Chelsea face Leicester again in the league on Tuesday with both teams hoping to boost their chances of a top-four finish.

"These are two finals and we don't think about anything else," said Tuchel, whose side are fourth and two points behind third-placed Leicester.

"It's a final for cup and a final for top-four. That's clear. We missed a chance against Arsenal to have a decisive advantage and we have to cope with that."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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