Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Mateo Kovacic could face “some weeks” on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury in training.
Kovacic has enjoyed an impressive season so far, scoring once and registering five assists in nine Premier League appearances.
The 27-year-old Croatia midfielder has started eight of those games but could now be ruled out until after the November international break in what is a fresh blow for Tuchel, who is already missing forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
“We had very sad news on Thursday. He injured himself in the last minute of training,” Tuchel told reporters ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Newcastle on Saturday.
“He suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for some weeks actually, next week for sure and then comes the international break.
“Hopefully after the international break he will be back. He was doing a little bit too much in training so it’s my fault a little bit.”
There was better news for Chelsea with Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta back in training after missing the midweek Carabao Cup victory over Southampton, but Lukaku, Werner and Christian Pulisic are still unavailable.
“The target for them is after the international break,” Tuchel added. “Pulisic, we are looking at the Burnley match (on November 6) if everything goes well.”
Chelsea have set the pace in the opening two months of the season and look like making it a three-horse title race with champions Manchester City and Liverpool.
Tuchel’s side have 22 points from nine games, one more than Liverpool and two more than City, but he is refusing to get carried away.
“Like I said many times, Liverpool and City set the standards during the last four or five years now and they showed how many points you have to earn to win this league,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure there are a lot of teams out there who are hungry for points and so no predictions from me about how this thing ends.
“We are almost through October and November is coming and there is so much needed in terms of focus, concentration and consistency.
“It’s not enough to prove it (that we’ve closed the gap) for nine games, we need to prove it through our season and it will take all our courage, effort and discipline.”