The German manager is hopeful the Senegalese shot-stopper will be fit in time for the showpiece event in Portugal next weekend
Thomas Tuchel is optimistic about Edouard Mendy ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League final showdown with Manchester City.
Mendy has established himself as the Blues No 1 since moving to Stamford Bridge from Rennes for £22 million ($31m) last summer, recording 24 clean sheets in 44 games across all competitions.
The 29-year-old started again in Chelsea’s final game of the Premier League season against Aston Villa but had to be withdrawn at half-time with a rib injury, leaving Tuchel sweating on his fitness for next weekend’s European showpiece.
What’s been said?
The Blues boss was able to give a positive update on Mendy’s recovery at his press conference on Monday, telling reporters: “With Edou, the update is that we still have hope that he will join in with training on Wednesday with the group.
“He made a huge improvement with the management of pain from when the injury happened, which is good but of course we will need a further update on Wednesday. We hope to have him back.”
Tuchel added: “Edou will play if he’s fit, and if he’s not fit on Wednesday, we will try Thursday, and if not then we will try Friday. We will be reasonable and take responsibility for the decision. At the same time, we have trust if he can’t make it. We have a strong guy with Kepa on the bench who would take his place.
“So the race is on. We are happy the images didn’t show the injury was too serious. So we are positive, but every hour and every day counts. Hopefully, the team around Edou and he himself can do enough that he is on the pitch. It would be a good boost for us.”
Tuchel on edge
The German tactician was also asked about N’Golo Kante’s fitness ahead of the final, with the Frenchman having picked up a knock in last week’s win over Leicester City which kept him out of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Villa.
“For N’Golo, nothing has changed, I think about changing my tactics now to stop asking about N’Golo and just put him on the pitch in Wednesday’s training,” said Tuchel.
“I don’t ask him anymore if there are any problems, just put him in training, and put him on the pitch when the game starts on Saturday. Maybe I will not speak to the doctors and the physios anymore so I hear no more doubts, no complaints or nothing.
“So maybe I need to think about changing my tactics! But it looks good and I hope it stays like that.”
Tuchel assesses Chelsea’s chances
Newly crowned Premier League champions City ended up finishing 19 points ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea, who are being billed as underdogs in Saturday’s all-English final.
However, Tuchel masterminded the Blues’ 1-0 win against Pep Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup semi-finals and 2-1 triumph at Etihad Stadium in their last top-flight meeting, and has high hopes that his side can pull off another upset at Estadio do Dragao.
“It’s City with Pep on the side, so maybe they are the best team in Europe at the moment and maybe the world. It’s on again us to close the gap for 90 minutes,” he said.
“The good thing is we have done it already. We played this exact team in exactly the same circumstances in a short period of time. This is the point to continue and the point to believe. Everything is possible in a final. Of course, everything is possible in every direction. We want to push luck and destiny and this game on our side.”