Maurizio Sarri is sweating over the fitness of several first-team players, as Chelsea prepare to face Tottenham in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
Chelsea will be aiming to grab the early advantage in their Carabao Cup semi-final tie against Tottenham when the two sides meet at Wembley on Tuesday night. Maurizio Sarri though, has a number of injury concerns ahead of the short trip to face Spurs.
But, the Chelsea boss has no problems whatsoever in defence, and after the second string defenders manned the back four last weekend against Nottingham Forest, the regulars are likely to face the menacing Tottenham attack.
Behind the back four of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, Kepa Arrizabalaga should be the man in the Chelsea goal, making only his second Carabao Cup appearance. The fitness troubles though, start in midfield.
Marco van Ginkel (knee) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) will certainly miss out, while Cesc Fabregas (cramp) and Mateo Kovacic (illness) are doubtful. And, during his pre-match press conference, Sarri provided an update on Loftus-Cheek and Fabregas, with the latter likely to have played for the last time for Chelsea ahead of a move to AS Monaco.
“Loftus-Cheek of course is out now, we have to understand the situation with his back because in the last month he was in trouble. I have no news about Cesc. I don’t know if he is able to play tomorrow because in the last match, in the last 10 minutes he had cramp in his calf. He needs to rest I think.”
With Kovacic’s situation unknown, it is likely that the returning N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will likely be partnered by Ross Barkley in the midfield three. Meanwhile, there are plenty of issues in the attacking department.
Willian (calf), Pedro (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (ankle) are all recovering from their respective injuries. And, while all three are expected to be available against Tottenham, Sarri provided little clarity over the trio’s availability.
“We don’t know at the moment. ‘Pedro, Willian and Giroud are doing better, yesterday they had training with their team-mates, with the group. I don’t know if they will be able to play tomorrow, maybe not for 90 minutes.”
Judging by Sarri’s comments, it looks unlikely that the trio will face Tottenham, meaning Callum Hudson-Odoi is in line to start a second successive game for Chelsea. Speaking about the teenage prodigy, the manager commented that the 18-year-old is ready for a bigger role in his squad following his exploits against Nottingham Forest.
“I think so, he’s ready. I think now he is ready. He can play but of course sometimes he will be on the bench, like Willian or Pedro, but now I can start to consider him at the same level. I know for me he is a very important player, he‘s young and now he’s improving, especially in the defensive phase. I think he played really well in the last match.”
Hudson-Odoi should have Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard as his partners in the final third, with Pedro, Willian and Giroud likely to be backup options on the bench.