Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante for Tuesday’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace after the France midfielder sustained a hamstring strain.
Kante is also likely to be absent from the Blues’ weekend assignment at Sheffield United, although head coach Frank Lampard does not expect his absence to extend much further due to the injury being “low level”.
“Kante won’t be in the squad, he hurt his hamstring,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“It’s a low-level hamstring [injury], so we’re hoping it is a week or so.
“We’ll play that one as it goes but I would expect we’d be very lucky to have him for Sheffield United.”
Mateo Kovacic returned to training following an Achilles problem on Monday but the visit to Selhurst Park comes too soon for the Croatia international.
It means Jorginho is set to resume duties at the base of Chelsea’s midfield – a position he made his own under Lampard and predecessor Maurizio Sarri until the Premier League resumption last month.
The former Napoli star has been an unused substitute for the Blues’ last three matches having not featured in the matchday squad for the 2-1 comeback win at Aston Villa – one of three “Project Restart” victories, which leave Lampard’s men fourth, a point behind Leicester City and two better off than Manchester United in a knife-edge battle for the Champions League places.
“He has been very professional about it,” Lampard said of Jorginho. “He wants to play as every player does.
“One of the hardest parts of the job is telling a player who is not playing, or picking a squad and leaving out players. Particularly when they are training well and Jorginho always trains well.
“But he has handled it professionally and that’s what I would expect. It is important for players in a long season, with the competitive squad that we have, that they are there to support players when they are out, and he has done that.
“So we will see with my selection tomorrow. I don’t want to go into the personal details of positional and tactical. I just have to pick a team as I see best. They are just my choices.”
Lampard hopes that positive attitude extends to his whole squad when it comes to the pressure of sealing a top-four place – something he insists Chelsea’s players should relish with five top-flight games remaining.
“I like to think they are not ignoring what’s around them. Football is on TV more than ever,” he added, reflecting on the Premier League’s rebooted schedule.
“I expect them to buy into that and want to see what results are happening around us. I think that’s human nature and on a sporting level I think that means you care and want to see what’s happening.
“I think then there needs to be a slight switch off to focus on what’s happening to yourself. We can’t control the other games, although we are certainly interested in them, but we can control what we do.
“So it can fire you up to see what happens around you. The position we are in means it is in our own hands and that’s the main thing. We need to focus on putting on the best performance when we train and play.”