Chelsea have confirmed that Michael Essien is unlikely to play again this season.
The Ghana international will certainly not be back for the weekend clash with Stoke at Stamford Bridge, despite media reports to the contrary, and Chelsea are resigned to finishing the title run-in and playing the FA Cup final without his services.
The midfielder has not appeared for Chelsea since December when he tore a hamstring against APOEL in the Champions League and then hurt his knee on international duty at the African Nations Cup.
Injury blow: Michael Essien in action against Blackburn earlier this season
Having suffered some complications in his rehabilitation, the27-year-old is now unlikely to figure again for the Blues this season.
'Michael Essien will not be in the squad for the weekend's gameagainst Stoke City at Stamford Bridge,' said a club spokesman.
'We were hoping that Michael recovered before the final game but itnow looks unlikely that he will feature for us again this season.'
Essien had hoped to be back in action in time for Chelsea's home Champions League leg against Inter Milan.
But his knee continued to swell-up and the player underwent fourlots of surgery inside a fortnight. Chelsea have Stoke, Liverpool andWigan to play in the league and Portsmouth in the FA Cup final atWembley, but Essien is to miss them all.
On the sidelines: Ashley Cole and Michael Essien watch Chelsea's clash with Inter Milan last month
Meanwhile, England midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored a lateconsolation goal, admitted the side's slow start cost them three pointsagainst Tottenham.
Chelsea's lead at the top of the Barclays summit was reduced to asingle point after Tottenham's 2-1 win at White Hart Lane andManchester United's late 1-0 success over City at Eastlands.
Slow start: Lampard was disappointed with Chelsea's performance at White Hart Lane
'The last thing you want to do when you go to White Hart Lane isgive them a 1-0 lead at the start, especially in the derby,' concededLampard.
'When we went 1-0 down they got their confidence and when the gamewent to 2-0 it put us under a lot pressure and they are a good side.
'Then the game got messy in the second half and we went down to 10men. But to be fair we had quite a lot of the ball in their box, wejust couldn't find that last little pass.
'It's disappointing, especially with Manchester United's result.When they scored in the last minute it was hard. If they had drawn thegame it would have left us in a very healthy position but now it'stighter.
'We were trying to get back into the game and with the goal we had abit of a lift but it's difficult with 10 men. 'But we have to get onwith it now, understand it and not dwell on it because if we win ournext three games we win the League.'
Chelsea will face Stoke on Sunday without captain John Terry who wassent off against Spurs. But Lampard, who will take on the captaincy inTerry's absence, was full of praise for his England colleague.
'He wants to win and he's a fantastic captain,' said Lampard.'Although for the first yellow I thought he got a slight touch on theball.
'But when he went into that second tackle, you knew the minute thetackle went in he was going to get sent off. 'When you're playing insuch circumstances sometimes these things happen but I don't think thereferee gave us much in the game.'
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