Influential Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien could be out for the remainder of the Premier League campaign as he continues to struggle with a long-standing knee problem.
The Ghanaian star suffered the injury while on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and has failed to play since and his country will be sweating over his fitness ahead of the World Cup finals in the summer.
He could also miss the FA Cup final against Portsmouth next month to rub further salt into the 27-year-old's wounds.
A club spokesman said: "Michael Essien will not be in the squad for the weekend's game against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.
"The Ghanaian's participation in the remainder of the campaign is now in doubt, with only four games to play including the FA Cup Final on May 15."