Chelsea are facing up to the prospect of a huge injury crisis in defence ahead of Sunday’s mouth-watering clash with Liverpool.
Thomas Tuchel’s side welcome Premier League title rivals Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.
But they will have to do so without a dearth of defensive options.
The Blues were already without several key figures for Wednesday’s visit of Brighton and Hove Albion – with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz again not part of the squad – and sustained further injuries during the match.
Reece James went off in the 27th minute of the game, which finished 1-1 as Chelsea’s stuttering form continued.
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Romelu Lukaku’s goal looked to have given the hosts back-to-back wins only for Albion to snatch a point thanks to Danny Welbeck’s stoppage time goal.
Chelsea academy graduate James has been an integral part of the success Tuchel’s side have enjoyed in the last 12 months but sustained what appeared to be a hamstring issue against Brighton.
James, who has found the net on five occasions this season, had to be replaced by Marcos Alonso. James is now surely a doubt for Sunday’s match at Stamford Bridge.
Elsewhere, centre-half Andreas Christensen also showed signs of struggle against Brighton.
He had been primed to come off early with a back problem but was able to initially carry on. Eventually the Danish defender could not continue and was taken off at half-time to provide another headache for his manager.
Elsewhere, Ben Chilwell could well be out for the majority of the campaign.
The England international suffered a knee injury in last month’s win over Juventus which Chelsea initially hoped could be treated without surgery but on Tuesday it was confirmed Chilwell will need an operation to repair his damaged anterior cruciate ligament.
It is likely to sideline the defender for the remainder of the season and leaves Tuchel with a big void to fill at left wing-back.
And veteran Thiago Silva is another worry.
After muscle problems impacted his 2020-21 campaign, Silva had managed to stay fit until he was forced off during Boxing Day’s victory over Aston Villa.
The Brazilian’s withdrawal was put down to a hamstring injury which is unlikely to clear up before Liverpool travel to the capital this weekend and even if it does, can his manager risk the veteran centre-back with so many other absentees?
Tuchel’s side have now won just two of their last six league games.