Chelsea right-back Reece James is only expected to miss a few weeks of action after scans on a knee injury showed surgery would only be needed as a last resort.
The England international had been dealing with a minor knee problem for a number of week but complained of increased pain following a collision with Wolves’ Daniel Podence in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat and was therefore sent for a scan.
It was initially feared that James may need surgery and could therefore be sidelined for the next few months, but The Athletic’s Simon Johnson notes that scans on the affected area have come back relatively positive.
James is now expected to miss Monday’s meeting with West Ham and will also likely sit out the clash with Arsenal on Boxing Day, with Cesar Azpilicueta set to come in and deputise for the young right-back.
The news comes as somewhat of a blow for Frank Lampard. James has started 11 of Chelsea’s 13 Premier League games thus far and has been one of the Blues’ standout players, so to see him forced into a spell on the sidelines is obviously not ideal.
However, it’s a small price to pay to ensure James does not need a lengthier lay-off in the future, something that’s likely to have drawn a sigh of relief from Lampard.
Alongside James, Chelsea are also expected to be without winger Hakim Ziyech for Monday’s game. The Moroccan international has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but despite returning to training a few days ago, he is expected to miss out against West Ham.
There is more positivity around fellow wide man Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose hamstring injury is believed to have healed faster than Ziyech’s.
Hudson-Odoi is not expected to start against West Ham, with Lampard eager to avoid taking any unnecessary risks during a hectic festive period, but a cameo off the bench has not been ruled out.
Chelsea currently find themselves eighth in the Premier League table, but victory over West Ham would see Lampard’s side leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur and fly back up to fifth.
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