Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois set to return in FA Cup semi-final against Spurs

Dominic Fifield
Thibaut Courtois missed Chelsea’s Premier League defeat at Manchester United after twisting his ankle in an event organised by Chelsea with the NBA. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois is confident he will be fit enough to feature in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday despite damaging his ankle while playing basketball at a Chelsea promotional shoot last week.

The Belgium international twisted the joint on Tuesday at an event organised by the Premier League leaders, and filmed as part of their commercial duties with the NBA. His team-mates Nemanja Matic, Marcos Alonso, Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic were also involved at the shoot, with Courtois understood to have landed awkwardly having jumped to catch a basketball.

Antonio Conte, who chose not to divulge the nature of Courtois’s injury in the wake of the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, had been made aware of the severity of the problem sustained by his No1 on Wednesday. He was forced to hand Begovic a first league start of the campaign at Old Trafford, where a second defeat in four Premier League games left his side’s lead trimmed to four points from the second-placed Spurs with six games to play.

The manager is believed to have been deeply unimpressed to have lost his first-choice goalkeeper, a huge basketball fan who attended an NBA game hosted at the O2 Arena this year between Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors, to an injury sustained taking part in commercial activities for the club. Yet Courtois is making progress in his recovery and believes he will be fit enough to play, if selected, at the national stadium.

Alonso, who missed out at United after going down with a virus on Saturday night, should also be fit enough to play. “It’s not getting nervy” Begovic said. “We are an experienced group of players who have been there and done this before. We have to just focus on getting better for the next game. We’ll bounce back.

“There is still lots to play for this season. We just have to do our job. We still have a four-point advantage which at the beginning of the season we would have taken at this stage. We are still in a good position and we just have to concentrate on ourselves. If we pick up the points we need it doesn’t matter what Spurs do.”

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