Fever rules Drogba out of Villa trip
Chelsea’s injury crisis deepened ahead of Saturday’s crucial game at Aston Villa following the loss of striker Didier Drogba with a fever.
There is also a mystery surrounding Yossi Benayoun’s Achilles rupture.
England midfielder Frank Lampard has failed to recover from his groin problem and although captain John Terry is fit again, the Blues are without Alex, Benayoun, Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou.
Terry has recovered from the back injury that forced his withdrawal from the England squad for their 2012 Euro Championships qualifier against Montenegro and will play.
But Chelsea insist that MRI scans showed midfielder Benayoun had no tear in his Achilles when he left the club for an international call-up with Israel.
Benayoun will travel to Finland this weekend for an operation on Monday that will rule him out for up to six months after the full extent of his injury was diagnosed by Israel’s team doctor in Tel Aviv last week.
Benayoun sustained the injury in the Carling Cup defeat by Newcastle earlier this month but Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted scans showed no damage to the player’s Achilles when he left England.
"We are sure that, when he left England, he did not have a tear in his tendon," said Ancelotti. "We are sure of this. He had a calf problem.
"The MRI showed this problem, but the tendon was clear. He had a problem at the start of the season with inflammation on his tendon, had treatment and came back to play for us and the national team.
"I don’t know what happened afterwards. Now he has to have surgery and we’re disappointed because we’ve lost a very good player. He was improving in the last game, but now this is the situation.
"I don’t know what happened after he left England. I haven’t asked him because I haven’t seen him. I trust my doctor at this club, and we are sure he didn’t have a tear on his tendon when he left England.
"When he left this club to go and play for Israel, his Achilles tendon did not have a problem."
A spokesman for Chelsea added: "When we released him for the national team, he wasn’t clear to play. Our scans still showed that he had some healing to go, still."
But Ancelotti laughed off suggestions he was facing a crisis in the treatment room while confirming that Lampard and Drogba would miss the trip to Villa Park.
"Frank is not available, Drogba is not available, Sturridge, Kalou, Alex, Benayoun are not available.
"Frank is getting better, but he needs maybe two weeks to be 100% fit. He had a problem on his adductor and we have to pay attention to that.
"He is working individually but he needs to have another two weeks. It’s getting better. It wasn’t an easy injury but I’m not a doctor. We have to speak with the doctor, who can be more precise.
"Drogba had a fever this week, all week, and wasn’t able to train. He started training on Friday, but he’s not fit. He took antibiotics in the last few days, and will need to train next week."
Ancelotti knows his weakened side face a difficult test as they lost 2-1 at Villa Park last season through set-piece mistakes.
The Blues are four points clear at the top of the Premier League and Ancelotti wants his side to maintain it.
"The Villa match will be a difficult game," said Ancelotti. "We had a problem last year when we played them. They were physical and we have to be ready.
"It’s an important moment. We want to maintain this gap at the top and this will be a good step. It would be fantastic to win.
"It’s a good test because, without important players, we have to show our qualities. I’m happy to have this squad but this will be a good test to show our quality without these players. I’m not concerned about this, our line-up will be good.
"Every team has some problems. We have injuries, but we have to move on."