Chelsea have travelled to Romania for their crucial Champions League encounter against Steaua Bucharest tomorrow without attacking midfielder Eden Hazard after the 22-year-old was ruled out through injury.
The news was confirmed on the club’s official website after a squad of 20 flew out to Bucharest, with Hazard joining the injured Marco van Ginkel on the sidelines.
The only other player left out of the squad is Kevin de Bruyne, who after failing to impress in the Capital One Cup match against Swindon last week has been sent by Jose Mourinho to train with the reserves.
Striker Fernando Torres was included in the squad despite the Spaniard facing the prospect of having his domestic ban extended after he appeared to scratch Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen when the two clashed in Saturday’s London derby at White Hart Lane.
Torres was eventually sent-off after he picked up a second yellow for jumping into the Belgian defender, and although replays appeared to show that Torres hadn’t fouled the centre-back, referee Mike Dean confirmed he didn’t see the scratching incident leaving Torres open to retrospective disciplinary action.
Michael Essien is not part of the Champions League squad after he was left-out when Chelsea’s European list was announced, and he cannot be registered until the squad is resubmitted in January.
The Blues met Steaua earlier this year, when they lost 1-0 in the National Arena only to overcome them in the return leg at Stamford Bridge and progress to the quarter-finals, with Rafael Benitez’s side going on to lift the Europa League title.
However, they are in desperate need of a win having been on the end of a 2-1 reverse at home against Basle in the opening group stage match a fortnight ago.
Mourinho has already admitted that a defeat is not an option, and that they have left themselves in a situation where they need a win or face an early exit from Europe’s elite once again.