Selection shock: Unexpected starter in Tottenham clash against Chelsea after blow - report
By Harry Sykes
Nathan Ake is set to be handed a shock call-up to the Chelsea team for the FA Cup semi-final showdown against Tottenham at Wembley, according to a report.
Football London claim manager Antonio Conte will name Ake, 22, in his starting XI for the eagerly anticipated fixture as a replacement for the unavailable Gary Cahill.
It is said that the Dutchman will get the nod over club captain John Terry and Kurt Zouma to join regulars David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta in Chelsea’s three-man back line.
The reported choice of Ake is a surprise given that he has made just two appearances under Conte, with both of those coming against Championship sides in the FA Cup.
Conte claimed on Friday that it was “impossible” for Cahill to feature in the clash on Saturday evening after suffering with gastroenteritis during the week, in which he also spent a few days in hospital.
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Ake spent the first half of the season on loan at Bournemouth, where he impressed and was a regular starter.
The former Holland Under-21 international returned to his parent club in January but has been forced to watch on from the sidelines due to the consistency of Cahill, Luiz and Azpilicueta, with the former two named on Thursday in the PFA team of the season.
Tottenham head into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown against Chelsea on the crest of a wave following a remarkable run of seven consecutive Premier League wins.
By contrast, the west Londoners have stuttered in the past month, losing two of their last four matches to give Spurs a glimmer of hope in the title race.
The gap between leaders Chelsea and second-placed Spurs has been narrowed to four points with six matches of the campaign remaining.
The two sides will take a break from the title to aim for the FA Cup win that will secure a place in next month’s final against Arsenal or Manchester City, who will play one another on Sunday.
In other Tottenham team news, the club have sensationally terminated the contract of one of their defenders.