Chelsea face the prospect of losing a quartet of influential stars for their Premier League contest against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The international interlude has certainly provided plenty of highs for Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
However, the Blues boss won’t be best pleased by the damage done to some of his players.
Romelu Lukaku revealed after Belgium’s World Cup qualifying win yesterday, incidentally the striker’s 100th cap, that he was going to have a scan on a thigh problem.
The severity of the injury isn’t yet clear but the timing certainly could have been better.
Chelsea’s walking wounded
Lukaku will join N’Golo Kante on the treatment table. The influential midfielder is recovering from damage to his ankle.
Kante picked up the knock during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool. The injury forced him to come off at half-time.
He was still selected by France manager Didier Deschamps for national team service, yet was deemed unable to play following further assessment of the injury.
Without Kante or Lukaku, the spine of Tuchel’s side loses some of its core strength.
Kai Havertz is also a doubt for the weekend’s fixture as he overcomes a flu bug that caused him to miss Germany’s 6-0 thrashing of Armenia last night.
Havertz hasn’t had the greatest luck in terms of avoiding illness.
Last season the 22-year-old contracted covid, which saw him miss six matches for club and country.
His levels evidently dropped after that period of isolation. Chelsea will hope that isn’t the case this time around.
Tuchel’s other enforced absentee is Reece James, who received a red card against Liverpool.
James, Lukaku, Kante and Havertz – the latter also a scorer – all started the game at Anfield, an indication of their importance to Tuchel’s system.
Luckily the Blues have plenty of quality in reserve to replace their wounded teammates. Nevertheless, any team would miss that sort of quality.