Frank Lampard has confirmed N'Golo Kante has a hamstring problem, but is hopeful that his injury isn't too serious with his star midfielder key to turning around a run of poor form.
Kante has been ever-present during the run, starting the last four games in a 10-day period.
After being hit by injury last season, Kante had stayed fit until now, but he joins Reece James and Andreas Christensen on the injured list ahead of the FA Cup third-round clash with Morecambe at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
"Reece James is out for the game, although he will be training with us tomorrow," Lampard said. "It's the same as Andreas Christensen, and Kante is out also with a minor hamstring injury. So he misses this game and is suspended for Fulham anyway, so we'll get him right. Those three are out."
Christensen's injury came in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa as a heavily rotated team dropped points against Dean Smith's high-flying side.
Anwar El Ghazi's equaliser was hotly debated as he scored while Christensen was down which left Chelsea short in defence. The Danish defender came in from some criticism after the collision with Jack Grealish, who got up while he stayed down injured.
Even Blues legend and now-Aston Villa assistant coach John Terry took to Instagram to criticise the defender, but Lampard thinks it is harsh in light of his knee problem.
"It was from that moment in the Villa game," Lampard added. "It’s probably a typical modern-day reaction where Andreas has taken stick. He’s out but the injury isn’t too bad which is good news for him. He’ll be back training with us tomorrow.”
Interestingly, Andreas Christensen had a scan on his knee a few days ago after the collision with Jack Grealish. He played through the pain for the last part of the match. It might put some of the analysis on his performance in a new light... #CFC https://t.co/Seq2pcuiYT— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) January 4, 2021
Chelsea can ill-afford to lose to Morecambe on Sunday with Lampard under increased threat of losing his job after a difficult run.
Lampard has one of the Premier League's biggest squads but he is hopeful of giving some opportunities to stars of the club's youth teams. Chelsea have blocked the Cobham academy graduates from seeking loan moves until after the match.
Tino Anjorin, Jude Soonsup-Bell, Lewis Bate, Tino Livramento and Henry Lawrence could all make the matchday squad having tested negative for coronavirus and trained with the group ahead of the cup clash.
“We've called up both Tinos (Anjorin and Livramento), Jude, who has been scoring goals in the youth team," he added. "We’ve called up Lewis Bate who has trained with us before and Henry Lawrence.
“It’s a great experience for them and it’s something I’ve wanted to do and last season was able to do pre-restart. It helps training because it’s really important to have competitive training and having young players enables you to be really competitive with killing the other players physically in between games.
“We’ve had a long week and they’ve been really able to help that. They’ve also been able to show their qualities and it’s always great to gauge young players to see how quickly they take to the football side of training but also how their personalities react to the uplift in pressure and level in training.
“It’s something I’ve always believed passionately for the club and I have seen a lot out of all of those players that have come to train with us. They are real potential for us and there are lots of steps for them in many different ways, but I’ve been really pleased to do it.
“It’s good for the older players because they can speak to the younger lads and help them. And for the young players, it shows what they can aspire to.”