Mateo Kovacic has had a brilliant campaign so far – until now.
The Croatian was initially selected by Zlatko Dalic after appearing in all five matches for Chelsea this campaign.
However, the 25-year-old picked up an injury in the last 10 minutes against Sheffield United on Saturday and was unable to continue.
He is said to have an inflamed Achilles tendon, the same area of the body which has effected Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. As such, he needed to drop out from the upcoming Croatia games.
It has not been the easiest of times for Kovacic at Stamford Bridge. Last season, he averaged a rating of just 6.65 and picked up two assists throughout the campaign, often feeling the wrath of the Chelsea faithful.
However, he has started the current term in a far more positive fashion and his performance against Norwich City was particularly impressive.
He displayed the qualities that his new-found freedom under Lampard allows, with his six completed dribbles bettered by no player from either side. In that game, he also picked up an assist, meaning that he has already reached the half of his previous tally for the whole of last season.
Mateo Kovacic’s game by numbers vs. Norwich:
81% pass accuracy
20/27 final third passes
3 fouls won
Dynamic performance. 🇭🇷 pic.twitter.com/IDrOMfk2Pn
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 24, 2019
It is therefore incredibly disappointing that fate would strike such a cruel blow just when he was beginning to hit his stride.
With N’Golo Kante and Loftus-Cheek unavailable, Kovacic had the opportunity to make himself undroppable from Lampard’s side as the former Derby County boss still looks for his preferred starting XI.
Lampard will be hoping the midfielder’s injury is short term as they are pretty short-staffed in midfield. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still on the sidelines for quite a while, Kante seems to be struggling for fitness, Pedro is only just recovering as well and just yesterday Tiemoue Bakayoko was loaned back to his former club Monaco.
Anything in line with a long term injury could hamper Chelsea’s dynamics as he’s been their best midfield performer(behind Mason Mount).
If Kovacic only got the nod due to Kante’s injury and the latter is out injured too – won’t that be leaving Lampard with a major selection headache?
Although Kante is rumored to be fit after the international break, it’s certain his fitness problems could be here to stay.
In this season alone, the Frenchman has probably had more injury mentions and setbacks than all of his previous years in Chelsea combined and to that effect, an able backup(Mateo Kovacic) would be needed available on standby for any complications.
Highlighting how important the Croatian would be for Lampard this term.
While the extent of his injury is yet to be revealed, he may be prevented from doing so.
The Chelsea faithful will be hoping his removal from his country’s squad is a precaution rather than a sign of a longer spell on the sidelines, but it’s nonetheless a setback after what has been a fine start to the Croatian’s second season with the Blues.