Chelsea centre-half Kurt Zouma is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during his side’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The 21-year-old defender is set for surgery and six months on the sidelines after his right knee buckled on landing during the second-half of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with United.
Injury to Zouma will represent a huge blow to Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, who has started the Frenchman in every game since he returned to Stamford Bridge as interim manager in December.
“Chelsea Football Club’s medical team have diagnosed that Kurt Zouma sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during yesterday’s Premier League game against Manchester United,” read a club statement.
“Kurt will undergo surgery in the next 48 hours and is expected to be out for approximately six months.”
The injury also places Zouma’s participation in this summer’s European Championships, which begin in June, in serious doubt. The latest of his two caps for France came during an international friendly with Denmark in October.
Fellow centre-half Gary Cahill is set is deputise for Zouma, who has started 16 of Chelsea’s last 19 fixtures, alongside skipper John Terry in the heart of the defence for Saturday’s showdown with relegation-threatened Newcastle.
England vice-captain Cahill has found first-team opportunities increasingly limited this season and aside from Sunday’s substitute appearance had only featured for Chelsea in the FA Cup during 2016.
Sunday’s clash against United was the first time Terry had played at Stamford Bridge since announcing his intention to leave west London in the summer amid a contract dispute with the club’s hierarchy.