Chelsea are searching for answers after suffering what ranks as the worst injury crisis in all of European football since the start of last season.
A whopping ten players are currently unavailable or down as fitness doubts for the Blues after Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount entered the queue for the treatment room this week.
Graham Potter had been hoping for good news in the form of Ben Chilwell, Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Edouard Mendy returning to action.
Instead, he has admitted the difficulty in seeing his squad struck down by a cataclysm of issues, with Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Armando Broja and Wesley Fofana also affected.
Chelsea are sweating over what appeared to be a hamstring injury suffered by Sterling against Manchester City on Thursday night.
Graham Potter refused to go into details after the match but admitted the winger “felt it with the first minute of the game” and no official diagnosis or timeline has been offered by the club.
Mount suffered a knock that forced him out of the City game but he is looking good to recover quickly and potentially feature on the weekend.
“He had a kick in training [Wednesday],” said the manager. “It never rains but it pours, as they say.”
Like Sterling, Pulisic went off in the first half with a knee injury after seeing a goalbound shot well blocked by a John Stones sliding tackle.
A downcast verdict from Potter described the blow as one Chelsea “hope is not too serious”, placing his participation on the weekend in serious doubt.
Chelsea lost right-back James to a knee injury on his first start since suffering a similar problem before the World Cup, leading to the player’s personal physio, James Ralph, stating on social media: “I need to bite my tongue despite having a lot to say.”
The club confirmed a month-long lay-off for the 23-year-old which points to a return in the fourth round of the FA Cup – if Chelsea make it that far.
While on the comeback trail from a hamstring injury suffered in August, Kante appeared with James in a promising social media post earlier in the week, the pair both being “on the mend”.
In December, a return date of late February or early March was put on the Frenchman and Standard Sport understand there are concerns within the squad over how Kante’s injuries have been handled.
Fofana suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury on the eve of the Premier League restart.
The centre-back is nearing a return to action and could feature next week if all goes well in the final stages of his rehab.
Loftus-Cheek is also on the verge of making his playing return but was not risked against City.
Having last played on December 11 against Newcastle, when he was forced off with a thigh complaint, he may feature in the FA Cup this weekend.
Another one pushing for a recall, particularly after Kepa Arrizabalaga’s error on Thursday, is Mendy.
The goalkeeper is recovering from a shoulder injury and Potter said before the City game: “He has been training a little bit more than he was. He is not fully fit at the moment but hopefully in the next week or so he might make some progress.”
After missing the World Cup with a hamstring injury, Chilwell is back in Chelsea training.
This weekend will come too soon for the left-back but the following midweek’s trip to Fulham is being eyed for his return to the squad.
It is not quite such good news for striker Broja.
A knee injury suffered in the mid-season friendly against Aston Villa meant surgery for the Albanian and he is set to miss the rest of the season, potentially returning in the summer
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