Nevin: Fabregas will have crucial role in cup final

Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin expects Cesc Fabregas to start in the FA Cup final against Manchester United on Saturday – but believes the Spanish midfielder will play a huge part even if he is left out of the starting line-up.

Fabregas, 31, has started 39 matches this season, with a further nine appearances from the bench.

Boss Antonio Conte has interchanged Fabregas and Timeoue Bakayoko in recent weeks.

Bakayoko has been vastly improved after returning to the side towards the end of the season but was widely criticised for his performance as the Blues were easily beaten 3-0 by Necastle last Sunday.

“I have a suspicion Antonio Conte he will play Cesc alongside N’Golo Kante, but no one knows,” Nevin told West London Sport.

“It’s such a close call and on a warm day at Wembley. There is a lot to be said for saving the creative player for the latter stages when the game opens up and there is more space.

Ex-winger Nevin was hugely popular among Chelsea fans

“There’s an argument for starting with the power of Bakayoko to deal with the power of Manchester United’s midfield. You will lose creativity with Bakayoko but gain that athleticism.

“But it’s not an either/or decision. He can start with one and use the other at some point. There is a not a simple way and it’s so hard to gauge.”

And Nevin believes Conte has shown he can get key judgement calls right in big games.

He said: “Tactically Conte has been amazing at times. The way he used Antonio Rudiger to kill off the threat of Mo Salah against Liverpool worked spectacularly well.

“They played at home but contained and controlled the game.”