Chelsea face the prospect of losing wing-back Marcos Alonso for their crunch FA Cup semi-final showdown with Southampton on Sunday after he was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association (FA).
Alonso appeared to stamp on Southampton and Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long’s calf during the first half of their Premier League clash on Saturday, a match in which Chelsea recovered from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2.
The 27-year-old’s actions went unpunished by referee Mike Dean but he has now been charged retrospectively by an FA panel. Alonso has until 6pm tonight to respond to a charge which typically carries a sanction of a three-match ban.
Should Alonso be suspended for three games, he would miss Chelsea’s top-flight clash with in-form Burnley tomorrow, the FA Cup semi-final and the Blues’ trip to Swansea later this month.
Alonso’s absence for Sunday’s Wembley clash would represent a major blow to Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as the FA Cup is the club’s last remaining opportunity to win silverware and salvage an otherwise underwhelming campaign.
His potential absence could mean a call-up for January signing Emerson Palmieri, who has only started one match for Chelsea since joining for £18m from Serie A outfit Roma. The 23-year-old, who suffered an injury-blighted campaign before arriving in west London, has only started two matches all season.
Although qualification for next season’s Champions League is looking unlikely, Chelsea’s fixture with seventh-placed Burnley is also important to ensure the Stamford Bridge outfit finish as high in the table as possible.
The Blues are currently seven points behind rivals Tottenham, who play Brighton on Tuesday evening, and their remaining Premier League fixtures are against Burnley, Swansea, Liverpool, Huddersfield and Newcastle.