'Not sure': Tim Sherwood says £30m star isn't part of Chelsea's best line-up in shock claim

Tim Sherwood picked Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho over N’Golo Kante as his best midfield partnership for Chelsea.

Speaking on Premier League Productions, Sherwood was asked which of the Blues remaining two fixtures Thomas Tuchel should select his strongest side in.

Chelsea travel to Aston Villa on Sunday, aware that a win will book their place in next season’s Champions League.

Then they face Manchester City in the competitions final they are trying to qualify for.  

Beating Villa is certainly a priority and Sherwood admitted he’d rather have Kovacic and Jorginho instead of Kante for this huge match.

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“At the beginning of the season, the two favoured was Jorginho and Kovacic,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur manager.

“It was only because Kovacic picked up and injury that Kante came in and was outstanding when he came into the side. He showed Tuchel what he can deliver.

“I’d play my best team in the first game against Villa. I’m not sure Kante is in my best. I think Kovacic and Jorginho are my best two in midfield.”

Photo by Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Sherwood did offer a solution to get Kante involved somehow against Villa.

He said: “Kante could be used because of Jack Grealish’s threat.

“Grealish is back now, picking up that ball. The last thing Grealish wants is Kante picking the ball of him.”

Kante has been in great form recently, following the absence of Kovacic.

In both European semi-final legs versus Real Madrid, the Frenchman was formidable.

However, doubts over his fitness heading into the weekend’s clash were heighted after he was removed early at home to Leicester City on Tuesday.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Tuchel explained Kante had felt something in his hamstring and didn’t want to inflame the issue.

If the £30m (BBC Sport) man isn’t available, it will surely open the door for Kovacic to return.

His nearly month and a half lay-off ended mid-week, when he replaced Kante after 30 minutes.

A lot will rest on the health of his players, but Tuchel is fully aware how much is riding on the Villa result and won’t want to make any risks in his team choices.

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If Kante is fit, he plays against Villa, no doubt. He is undoubtedly part of our best line-up.

Win that and he can be rested for the Champions League final if Tuchel desires.

Of course, he should not play if his body isn’t 100%.  

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.