Chelsea are facing another major blow ahead of the Europa League final with N’Golo Kante set to miss the showdown with Arsenal due to a knee injury.
Kante twisted his knee in training on Saturday and the World Cup winner’s absence in Baku on Wednesday night will leave manager Maurizio Sarri down to the bare bones in central midfield.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was already out after rupturing his left achilles tendon in Chelsea’s friendly against New England Revolution and will be out for around six months.
Kante was on course to recover from a hamstring injury which had kept him out of Chelsea’s last two games against Eintracht Frankfurt and Leicester in time to take his place in Azerbaijan.
He picked up the hamstring issue in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Watford, limping off at Stamford Bridge after just 10 minutes.
Kante’s setback means Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley will be Sarri’s only fit central midfielders for the final.
Kante left Saturday’s session in obvious discomfort and was being assessed by Chelsea’s medical staff on Sunday to discover the severity of the injury.
Initial fears are that Kante faces a longer spell on the sidelines.
Chelsea leave for Baku on Monday and losing Kante will mean Sarri is deprived of the services of four members of his squad against Arsenal.
As well as Kante and Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi will also be missing.