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Chelsea manager Tuchel explains why Kante didn't start FA Cup semi-final win against Crystal Palace

13:15 GMT+4 18/04/2022
N'Golo Kante Chelsea 2021-22
The Blues opted against fielding a World Cup winner from the start at Wembley, and did not make him their first midfield change

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel has explained why N’Golo Kante was left out of his starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final with Crystal Palace.

The Blues opted to go with Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in their engine room against the Eagles, but were forced into a change after just 26 minutes when the Croatia international picked up an injury.

World Cup winner Kante was left sitting on the bench again as Ruben Loftus-Cheek was introduced, with the Frenchman seeing only 13 minutes late on when he replaced Italy star Jorginho.

Why was Kante benched?

Tuchel got his tactical calls spot on, as Chelsea claimed a 2-0 victory over Palace and a spot in a third successive FA Cup final, and he told reporters on the decision to leave Kante out: “N’Golo is okay but we decided for Jorgi in the mix because he was out against Madrid and was hungry to play this match.

“The season is not finished and we wanted to reward Jorgi and Azpi to stay part in this. We also needed some fresh legs so NG is not injured.”

How serious is Kovacic’s injury?

Kovacic damaged his ankle early on against the Eagles, with it quickly becoming apparent that he was in no condition to continue.

Chelsea are hoping that the 27-year-old will not be out for long as they have important Premier League fixtures before facing Liverpool in the FA Cup final on May 14.

Tuchel said: “When Kova comes off, you know that he is in pain. The ankle is swollen, it’s a huge ankle right now. So let’s hope. It doesn’t look so good but we will wait for the examination and we can tell you more.”

The Blues will be back in action on Wednesday against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

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