·7 February 2023
·7 February 2023
Chelsea star Mateo Kovacic has an 'outside chance' of returning to action when Graham Potter's side make the short trip from Stamford Bridge to West Ham United this weekend, injury expert Ben Dinnery has told GiveMeSport.
The Blues will head to the London Stadium looking to return to winning ways after being made to settle for back-to-back goalless draws against Liverpool and Fulham.
Speaking to Chelsea TV, Potter revealed that Kovacic has been forced onto the sidelines after suffering a calf injury during the narrow win over Crystal Palace last month.
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Although the Blues' head coach admitted he was hopeful of the central midfielder returning to contention for the stalemate with Fulham on Friday, he was not included in the matchday squad.
Despite being on the treatment table, there are question marks over Kovacic's long-term future as Italian giants Juventus are preparing to offer Chelsea the opportunity to sign Denis Zakaria on a permanent basis in exchange for the Croatia international.
Respected journalist Simon Phillips recently told GiveMeSport that the 28-year-old is considering his next move.
Kovacic has entered the final 18 months of his £150,000-per-week contract at Stamford Bridge, meaning Chelsea could look to cash-in if he has not agreed fresh terms by the time the transfer window reopens in the summer.
Dinnery understands Kovacic has been struggling to overcome a calf issue, resulting in him missing the recent draws against Liverpool and Fulham.
But the injury news journalist believes there is a possibility that the former Inter Milan man could return to contention when Chelsea head to West Ham for a London derby on Saturday.
Dinnery told GiveMeSport: "He has got a calf related problem. I think that kept him initially out of that Liverpool game and it was a fairly minor and innocuous setback.
"It is nothing too major in the grand scheme of things so, all being well, if he could train, that potentially gives him an outside chance for this weekend."
Kovacic has averaged 1.2 tackles and 84 per cent pass accuracy in Premier League outings this season, according to Sofascore, so his presence in the heart of Chelsea's midfield has been missed.
However, the former Real Madrid man, who joined on a permanent basis for close to £40million in 2019 following a successful loan spell, has not been among the Blues' star performers since the campaign got underway.
Kovacic has only been handed an average match rating of 6.34 by WhoScored, making him the capital club's 26th best performer in the Premier League.
Despite that, the Croatian has been a reliable figure for Chelsea and made 206 appearances for the club, so his return from injury ahead of the trip to West Ham would come as a welcome boost.
But the acquisition of Enzo Fernandez, for a British record £106.8million fee on transfer deadline day last week, means Potter does not need to rush Kovacic back into the starting line-up at the London Stadium.
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