PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has only a “very small” hope Kylian Mbappé will recover from injury in time to face Atalanta in the Champions League quarterfinals on Aug. 12.
The 21-year-old forward, who has 30 goals in 34 appearances this season, was ruled out for about three weeks on Monday after sustaining an ankle ligament injury last week against Saint-Étienne in the French Cup final.
Tuchel was asked at a news conference on Thursday ahead of Friday’s League Cup final against Lyon if he has any hope that Mbappé can play against Atalanta in Lisbon.
“Yes, always, but it will be a very, very small one, that’s clear,” he said. “Every day counts to perhaps produce a miracle, but tomorrow we will need to adapt without him.”
Midfielder Marco Verratti praised Mbappé’s attitude in recent days.
“He’s incredible, always smiling (but) he knows in the end that he will have to work hard. We’re always by his side and he will work to come back as soon as possiblem,” Verratti said Thursday. “We were all disappointed for him, we’re all thinking about him. We hope to win more trophies and we have great things ahead of us. A player like Kylian would get into any side.”
Lyon does not have to worry about facing Mbappé’s searing pace as it chases its first trophy since winning the French Cup in 2012.
Lyon has lost the previous four League Cup finals it has played, the last in 2014.
“Mbappé’s absence does not change our plans. The club needs this trophy,” Lyon defender Léo Dubois said. “We’ve had a long time to prepare. We’ve worked well for the past eight weeks, our bodies are ready for this final.”
While Mbappé sits out on Friday night, Mephis Depay will lead Lyon’s attack at Stade de France, six months after a serious knee injury.
When Depay ruptured knee ligaments playing against Rennes in December, his absence was estimated to last six months and — before the coronavirus interrupted sport — that would have ruled him out for the rest of the season. Attacking midfielder Jeff Jason Reine-Adélaïde also injured his knee the same way — and in the same match — but coach Rudi Garcia says both are fit again.
Lyon faces Italian champion Juventus in Turin next week in the Champions League for the return leg of their last 16 match, leading 1-0 from the first leg before the coronavirus pandemic.
“They worked hard to get back,” Garcia said. “They are ready for the two big matches coming up.”
Depay impressed in a recent friendly match when he scored with a spectacular backheel goal against Celtic.
Before his injury he had been the club’s best player with 14 goals in 18 games overall, netting in all five of the Champions League group games he played in.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports