It is such a shame for Danny Drinkwater that he is going to have to wait for his Chelsea debut after Antonio Conte confirmed today that he is out for around two to three weeks.
The 27-year-old has not played all season due to injury and the deadline day signing has a calf problem that will now see him out until the international break, which comes on the weekend of October 6-7.
“He had a muscular problem in his calf. It will be very difficult to see him before the international break. He needs time to recover,” Conte said this afternoon.
“It is a pity because he was starting to work and improve his condition and adapt our idea of football. Now we have to move all this situation. It could be two or three weeks, I don’t know.”
What Drinkwater’s injury does now, however, is give Conte a selection headache in the centre of midfield and how he rotates his three players so that they maximize their performance over a busy period.
Chelsea have five games between now and the international break, including Arsenal on Sunday and the trips to Stoke City and Atletico Madrid, before the final visit of Manchester City on September 30.
In between that is the Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest next Wednesday night, where no doubt the likes of Kyle Scott and Charly Musonda could help fill the void if Conte needs his squad to fit in
But how he looks to rotate the three of Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante in the other four matches will be the bigger issue.
Bakayoko and Kante look the likely candidates to start at the weekend against the Gunners with Fabregas having played 90 minutes against Qarabag on Tuesday.
They will get their much needed rest before Stoke City the weekend after, which kicks off the busy week of Atletico on the Wednesday night before Manchester City come to Stamford Bridge for the evening kick-off on the Saturday.
It leaves Conte with an issue and a true show of what depth he has in the dressing room when it comes to the position. Bakayoko is getting back to full fitness and early signs suggest that he can be something special.
However, Conte will be wary of not overusing the Frenchman after his surgery, so Fabregas will be a key component for the Blues and will be crucial in giving Bakayoko the rest time that he needs to recover.
Meanwhile, Kante will no doubt continue to just be Kante and look to dominate in every game. However, the Blues must be careful and it is an important three weeks ahead.
A few defeats may hurt them in the long run and any more injuries in the centre of the park may expose a weakness in depth that could need to be corrected in January.