Chelsea's title hopes have been dealt an untimely blow with the news that Branislav Ivanovic is facing up to a month on the sidelines.
The Serbian full-back has damaged medial ligaments in his right knee and is expected to be out for at least a month.
The uncompromising defender underwent scans on Monday, having sustained the injury during the Blues' 1-1 draw with Blackburn 24 hours earlier.
Chelsea are now desperately short on defensive options as they attempt to keep their fading dreams of claiming the top-flight crown alive.
Carlo Ancelotti has seen his back four decimated by injuries this term, especially down the right-hand side.
Jose Bosingwa has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, and is set to miss this summer's World Cup, having undergone knee surgery, while Juliano Belletti has also struggled with niggling knocks.
Such problems had allowed Ivanovic to make the right-back position his own, but he too has been laid low.
That means Paulo Ferreira may be awarded a prolonged run in the first-team, with the Portugal international expected to keep his place in the side for Wednesday's trip to Portsmouth.