Zola - No Rudiger for Slavia clash
Chelsea assistant Gianfranco Zola has revealed Antonio Rudiger will miss the Europa League clash with Slavia Prague on Thursday.
The Blues head into the second leg of their quarter-final tie at Stamford Bridge as the heavy favourites to progress following their 1-0 victory in the Czech Republic last week, but will be without defender Rudiger, who picked up a knee injury during Sunday's Premier League defeat to Liverpool.
The Germany international was forced off after 40 minutes of the 2-0 reverse at Anfield although Zola, speaking to the media as boss Maurizio Sarri was undergoing a minor medical procedure, does not feel he will be sidelined for too long.
"It looks not as bad as we thought, luckily," Zola told reporters. "When he came off limping we were worried but apparently it is not that bad, plus he is a strong boy and he will be back sooner than you expect."
Andreas Christensen came on to replace Rudiger against Liverpool and he is expected to partner David Luiz at the heart of the defence once again, while Gary Cahill could also make a rare appearance in the matchday squad.
Chelsea's defensive options may be weakened further as Marcos Alonso and Ethan Ampadu both missed training on Wednesday although they could still be involved.
Sarri made seven changes to his starting line-up for the first leg but Zola is not anticipating as many alterations this time around.
"There will probably be some changes but there will not be many because it is a tough match," Zola added. "We knew that before and the match over there confirmed that. We are very aware we are playing a good team and need to play at our best."
Tom McGarry completed his sports journalist degree in 2011,and has since has become an integral part of the editorial and audio team. He is passionate about all things sport, particularly football, and is a lifelong supporter of his hometown club Carlisle United.