Chelsea are waiting to discover the extent of an injury to striker Romelu Lukaku ahead of their clash with Aston Villa this weekend, the Evening Standard reports.
£97.5million signing Lukaku has started Chelsea’s last two matches following his move from Inter Milan.
Villa, for their part, will head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening without Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, who have been playing international football in ‘red list’ countries and so can’t yet return to the United Kingdom (via Birmingham Mail).
However, they may be boosted by the return of Bertrand Traore and summer signing Leon Bailey, with Dean Smith suggesting last month they would be back in contention after the break (via Premier Injuries).
Lukaku is suspended for Belgium’s World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Wednesday, clearing him to make him an early return to Chelsea.
However, he will first undergo a scan on what he calls a ‘minor’ thigh issue with which he’s been ‘struggling’ for ‘a while’.
This could rule him out of this weekend’s visit from the Villans, in what is surely a boost for Smith and co given the striker’s potency in recent years, scoring 24 and assisting 11 in Serie A last term.
Villa fans might have had little hope of getting anything away against the European champions, particularly with no prospect of any Martinez heroics or creative flair from Buendia.
But there’s no denying that it would be a big blow to Chelsea if Lukaku was sidelined. He’s their deadly finisher and he can single-handedly dominate defences due to his physicality.
If Smith doesn’t have the Belgium star to worry about it may be easier to plot a way to stifle the hosts and launch counter attacks through the likes of Danny Ings, Traore and Bailey.
In other news, Kevin Phillips issues his verdict on a prospective Villa signing.
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