Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is positive French international World Cup winner N’Golo Kante will be fit to face Arsenal in the Europa League final as the midfielder trained with the squad this week.
Kante was pulled out just 10 minutes into Chelsea’s final home Premier League game of the season, a 3-0 win against Watford in early May, with a hamstring injury.
Despite fears he could miss the Baku showpiece against their London rivals, Kante has returned to training and is on course to feature on May 29.
Sarri said; “We are trying to recover Kante, he had a part of the training [on Tuesday] with the group, so we are optimistic. I think he will be able to play the final.”
The news will be a huge boost for Sarri after influential midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek ruptured his Achilles tendon during last week’s charity friendly match against New England Revolution in Boston.
Sarri confirmed Loftus-Cheek’s injury is similar to that suffered by Callum Hudson-Odoi against Burnley in April, with both out of action for the next four to six months.
He said: “In Boston, the pitch was really not very good. But in an injury like that, there isn’t only one reason. Probably there are a lot of reasons. So we cannot say the only reason is the pitch, of course.
“The injury is very similar to Callum’s injury, really very similar – not the same, but really very similar. So the time for the recovery is almost the same.”
He added: “Loftus[-Cheek] was able to become a very important player for us, especially in an open match. In the space, he’s really very useful for us. So I’m disappointed.
“But it’s useless to continue to speak about him. I am sure he will be able to return stronger than in the past. He will become, for sure, one of the best midfielders in Europe.
“I don’t know the timing [of his return] because it’s very difficult to say now: four months, five months.
“Then we need to consider the timing is different… probably he will be able to have training with the group after five months, but then he needs to be able to play at 100% of his possibilities, and that’s different. I don’t now the timing, but four to six months.”
Another player who will miss the Europa League final is Antonio Rudiger, who is recovering from surgery to his left knee.
“Rudiger has no chance [to play against Arsenal],” Sarri said. “No, Rudiger and Loftus-Cheek and Callum are all out. The only one we can recover is Kante.”