Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic will be out of action for the next three weeks following a hamstring injury he picked during an international engagement.
The full-back who has come under criticism this season following a below par performances picked up the injury during his team’s 2-0 victory over Albania last Thursday and has since returned to London for scans.
Despite usually being a dependable and commanding presence at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea vice-captain’s form has been poor this season and many Chelsea fans have questioned his place in the side.
With Ivanovic’s absence now certain, manager Jose Mourinho is expected to hand a first Premier League start to left-back Baba Rahman who recently signed for the club for £21m from Augusburg.
Rahman’s installation into the back four would see Cesar Azpilicueta switch to his natural position of right-back, in a move that many of the club’s supporters have recently demanded.
The defending champions’ defence, once thought of as near-impregnable, has conceded 17 goals in the league so far this season, the second-highest total in the division.
Mourinho has been reluctant to replace Ivanovic and bring Rahman into the side. The 21-year-old Ghanaian has only started against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League and against Walsall in the Capital One Cup since his arrival.