Kovacic was the victim of an awful challenge from Leeds United winger Daniel James at Elland Road on Wednesday night.
The Wales international flew into a challenge on the Croatian midfielder with such velocity that even if he got a touch on the ball – and he did – Kovacic was put at serious risk of injury.
Why after several minutes of treatment and an attempt to continue, Kovacic was forced off the pitch and instantly treated by the Chelsea medical staff.
“If he misses it I’m very disappointed because he was a clear starter,” Tuchel admitted.
“If you look at the quality with Jorgi and him in central midfield, even when we played eleven against eleven, it was a very strong start. He is a key figure for us in midfield.”
“He played against Liverpool – I think both matches from the beginning – and was very strong. He’s super, super hungry and determined, and excited to play these matches. And of course, he fears he will miss it.”
There is even the possibility of Kovacic being involved if he is able to come through Chelsea’s final training session ahead of the FA Cup final, which will take place at Cobham later today.
If Kovacic isn’t ready to feature at Wembley, then the Chelsea head coach is going to have a problem to solve as to how to set up his midfield against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Rewind the clock a year, and Kovacic was Chelsea’s third-choice midfielder behind both Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.
It’s a sign of the Croatia international’s progression and the dip in form of the aforementioned duo that Kovacic has usurped them both over the course of the campaign.
If he is unavailable, then the obvious option is for Tuchel to return to the double six that started last season’s Champions League final against Manchester City.
There is one slight concern about that: N’Golo Kante’s fitness.
“[The] latest chance for him to be ready for Saturday is on Friday,” Tuchel told Chelsea’s in-house media.
The good news for Tuchel is that Kante was back in training yesterday ahead of the final.
If Kante wasn’t able to start and Kovacic was ruled out, it would leave Tuchel with one midfield option to turn to.
Jorginho is guaranteed to start at Wembley if one of Kante or Kovacic misses out.
If they are both absent, the Italian becomes vital to Tuchel as the only match-fit midfielder to have experience of playing in high-profile and pressure-filled finals for club and country.
Tuchel would have to gamble with who partners Jorginho in midfield.
Saul Niguez is an option, but he has barely played any minutes over the past month.
So the obvious choice is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has somewhat unexpectedly played more than 2000 minutes across the campaign.
The academy graduate has partnered Jorginho in midfield previously this season, although results have been mixed.
There were victories over Malmo and Leeds United; draws against Manchester United and Everton; and defeats to West Ham United and the Toffees at Goodison Park.
Going with the duo against Liverpool would be a risk as neither are blessed with the defensive instincts of Kante or the nimbleness of Kovacic in and out of possession.
It’s perhaps a better option than Tuchel tweaking his midfield structure entirely for the final, although that is our wildcard option.
For the majority of his Chelsea tenure, Tuchel has stuck by his 3-4-2-1 system.
There have been occasions when the German has opted to deploy a back four, alter the make up of his midfield, or use a two-man strike partnership.
If Kante and Kovacic were both ruled out, then Tuchel could deploy his side in a 3-5-2 and drop Mason Mount into a midfield three alongside Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek.
As a number eight, the academy graduate would add off-the-ball aggression and an unerring ability to progress the ball into the final third.
Such a drastic decision is unlikely to be taken by Tuchel, however.
He will almost certainly go with a double six and hope that Kante has the natural fitness, even at 31 years old, to be dropped into the team cold and produce a top-level performance in a cup final against Liverpool.