James, Ziyech and Kovacic fit for cup final

Reece James, Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic are set to be included in Chelsea’s squad for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley.

James, sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury in December, has looked “very strong” since returning to full training, according to Thomas Tuchel.

Ziyech and Kovacic went off after picking up knocks during this week’s Champions League win over Lille but have also trained and been passed fit.

Mason Mount, who returned to the squad for the Lille game following a recent ankle injury, has also trained fully this week.

Blues boss Tuchel said he now faces a decision on whether to start with James. But it seems more likely that the England defender will be on the bench.

“We had training today with everybody out on the pitch except for Ben Chilwell, which is brilliant news,” Tuchel said on Friday afternoon.

“Both (Ziyech and Kovacic) are both OK since today. Everybody joined team training from the first to the last minute.

“We at the moment have had no (negative) reactions – but positive reactions. I hope it stays like this.

“We have another training session tomorrow  and (hope) to have everybody ready for Sunday.”

Tuchel said he will make a late decision on whether to select Edouard Mendy or Kepa in goal, declaring that Kepa had been “fantastic” in Mendy’s absence but that the head coach “cannot be sentimental” in his decision making.

James has not played since the 1-1 draw at Brighton on December 29 but Tuchel has been hugely impressed with him in training.

“He looked brilliant in the last two training sessions,” Tuchel said.

The German joked: “Let’s wait another session and then let’s see if I’m crazy enough to just put him on the pitch or if the reasonable side of me wins in the end and we go step by step.

“It would be a huge step (to start with James), but honestly yesterday and today he looked so strong, so confident and so involved in training that you are tempted to do it.

“Let’s see. We have a little bit of time. The most important thing is that he’s back and that he feels confident.

“There are still two days to go and then we will take the decision.”