England were 2-1 victors over Croatia in their crucial UEFA Nations League encounter on Sunday.
Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic was missing in action as a result of a leg muscle injury which reports claim could last for at least a week.
According to BBC journalist Ian Dennis, the midfielder picked up the injury while preparing for the Three Lions game but failed to recover before last night’s clash.
He further revealed via his Twitter verified account that the 15-cap Chelsea player is likely to miss some important Premier fixtures when club football resumes on Saturday.
The Real Madrid loanee has perfectly fit into Sarri’s tactical discipline and he would surely be missed by the Italian manager.
Tagged as ‘incompetent midfielder’ by former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, the World Cup semi-finalist is highly valued by Sarri and has involved him in 15 matches in all competitions.
No doubt, this injury will come as bad news to Sarri as it could be difficult to find a perfect replacement for him.
The central midfielder already knows what the manager wants from him and he always carry out his instructions, making sure the team are yet to taste defeat after 12 round of matches.
He has created a high level of understanding with his fellow midfielders — Kante and Jorginho at the middle and that has helped him succeed so far despite playing in the league for the first time.
The calm and assurance he brings into the team, even when they are not with the ball, is one thing that would be missed by Sarri in the team.
Though Kante is a workaholic and hard-tackling midfielder, his newfound role has made him less effective when it comes to dictating the tempo of a game.
Unlike Kante , Kovacic’s defence-splitting passes and ball-winning mentality are definitely one of the reasons the Blues are third on the log.
Blessing in disguise?
As a result of the injury, Sarri would be forced to make some alteration to his starting lineup in subsequent matches.
In a way to fill up for the vacuum that will be created by Kovacic, Sarri has no option but to bring Kante to a more defensive midfield role.
This might be a blessing in disguise as the Frenchman will return back to his preferred position where he had recorded so much success since he came to English League some years back.
With Kante in his usual position, you would expect that opponents are limited to little space to cause havoc because the 25-year-old man covers much ground and equally make goal-saving tackles.
Another good thing that could occur as a result of Kovacic’s injury is that in-form playmaker Ross Barkley will get more minutes to prove his worth.
Despite his fine start to the season, the England international hasn’t been seeing much game time due to the Croatian’s blistering performances.
Kovacic’s absence coupled with Kante’s return to the defensive position, Barkley is likely to be named in the team’s first XI on Saturday.
Barkley’s current form will surely add more threat to the Blues attacking prowess