Christopher Nkunku will miss Chelsea’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Middlesbrough because of a hip problem.
Nkunku, signed from RB Leipzig in a £52m deal in the summer, has endured a wretched debut season with the Blues after missing the first four months of the campaign with a knee injury he sustained on the club’s US summer tour.
The 26-year-old made an instant impact in his first Premier League appearance when he came off the bench to score in the 2-1 defeat at Wolves on Christmas Eve.
He started in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace and was involved in the 3-2 victory at Luton, but missed Saturday’s FA Cup third-round win over Preston at Stamford Bridge
“It is not related to his injury – a different problem with his hip. No he won’t be involved tomorrow or on Saturday but we are going to be cautious with him,” said boss Mauricio Pochettino.
“But it’s not a big issue.”
Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile and Carney Chukwuemeka will also sit out the trip to the Riverside Stadium as they continue to build up their fitness following injury lay-offs.
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez is still a long way from a return. He will have scans this week to determine his recovery from a knee injury.
“It will be the same squad for tomorrow as we had on Saturday,” Pochettino confirmed.