Kante still a doubt for Europa final - Sarri
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP):
Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri says midfielder N’Golo Kante has a 50-50 chance of being fit for the Europa League final and that the team will be pushed to the brink without him.Kante hurt his knee in practice on Saturday and cut short his evening training session yesterday as he fights against the clock to be fit for today’s final against Arsenal.
Sarri said there’s a “very little problem with his knee, the problem is the timing”, adding that the chances are 50-50 and that his fitness could come down to “the last moment”.“We are in trouble with the midfield. At the moment, we have only three midfielders for three positions, so we are in trouble,” Sarri said.
“He is the only defensive midfielder that we have, so for us, Kante is really very important. We are trying to recover him, and we will try tomorrow morning.”Kante trained separately yesterday evening with a focus on stretches while his teammates did a passing drill, but he then joined the squad for a group warm-up. However, he then trained solo again before leaving after a conversation with Chelsea’s staff.
The French midfielder has played in all of Chelsea’s Europa League knockout games this season except the second leg of the semi-final win on penalties against Frankfurt. He had a hamstring injury which caused him to miss that game and the end of the Premier League season against Leicester on May 12, but he seemed to have recovered before picking up the latest knee injury.
Chelsea are already without key midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.Sarri is looking for his first major title as a manager but rejected the notion that Chelsea’s season would be a failure if they finished without a trophy, pointing to third place in the Premier League and a run to the final of the English League Cup.
“We did a wonderful season because in the last season, Chelsea wasn’t [qualified for] the Champions League, and now we are in the Champions League,” he said. “We played [the League Cup] final in a competition in which we played against Liverpool and Tottenham, and we qualified against the two finalists of the Champions League. Then we lost the final by penalties against Manchester City, in my opinion the best team in Europe at the moment, and tomorrow, we will play the final in the Europa League. So I think we played a very good season.”