Club Focus – Chelsea – Blues set for weeks without first choice defensive pair

Premier League leaders and reigning champions Chelsea have been rocked by the news that they may be without starting centre backs John Terry and Alex until the New Year as both defenders undergo treatment for troubling injuries. Club captain Terry and Alex both missed the stunning 3-0 defeat at home to Sunderland last Sunday due to injury as Branislav Ivanovic and makeshift centre back Paulo Ferreira were destroyed by the Black Cats in an incredible display at Stamford Bridge.

The length of absence for the Blues’ starting defensive pair was unknown at the time but news from the club doctors was bad as it was suggested both may be out until the New Year. Brazilian defender Alex, who travelled to Qatar with his international team-mates for a friendly with South American rivals Argentina but was an unused sub on Wednesday, will require “approximately six to eight weeks” in order to recover from exploratory arthroscopic surgery on a knee injury that ruled him out of the Blues last two league games with Fulham and Sunderland.

Meanwhile, former England captain Terry has flown to Italy with Chelsea club doctor Bryan English to seek specialist treatment for a nerve problem in his right leg that the club fears could leave him sidelines for months. Terry revealed that with his club striving for honours at the end of last season, eventually lifting the Premier League crown on the last day and winning the FA Cup a week later, and then travelling to the World Cup with England, the injury had been a long lasting problem that has finally caught up with him: “It is at a point where I can’t carry on with it,” the 29-year-old defender explained. “I used to be able to make it through games because the adrenaline gets going and you blank the pain out, but now there really is no decision to make.”

The inability to call upon two such crucial players leaves Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti facing a defensive crisis with just two recognised centre backs to call upon; Serbian international Ivanovic and untested Dutch Under-21 youngster Jeffrey Bruma. Ferreira moved across from right back for the weekend defeat by Sunderland but was underwhelming, while Bruma is yet to make a Premier League start for the Blues. With a tough Christmas schedule approaching, including away trips to Tottenham and Arsenal which sandwich Manchester United’s December visit to Stamford Bridge, the champions will truly be tested without their influential centre back partnership who have made nearly 600 appearances for the club between them and were a vital part of Chelsea’s good early season form.

The defensive injuries add to the problems in midfield for Chelsea who are without Michael Essien, serving a three-match suspension following his red card in the 1-0 win over Fulham, Israeli Yossi Benayoun – potentially ruled out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon and Frank Lampard, whose absence extended beyond three months after a breakdown in training as he recovers from a hernia operation on his groin. Throw in Didier Drogba struggling with malaria and the London sides’ squad appears stretched to the maximum after a summer overhaul saw an exit to many fringe players, leaving the Blues strength in depth unwisely limited.

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