Chelsea full-back Reece James is set for up to a month out after suffering a setback to the knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup.
The 23-year-old England international underwent an assessment on Wednesday after being forced off in the second half of Tuesday’s 2-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth, with scan results confirming he faces another spell on the sidelines.
It is a devastating blow for the defender, who had just just returned to action after initially recovering from the injury sustained in October during a Champions League clash with AC Milan.
A statement from Chelsea read: “Defender Reece James underwent assessment earlier today after being substituted during the second half of last night’s 2-0 Premier League victory over AFC Bournemouth due to a knee injury.
“Scan results have regrettably confirmed a setback for the 23-year-old, with Reece now set to be ruled out for up to a month.”
James, who lasted almost an hour before he felt discomfort and left the stadium wearing a knee brace, personally addressed the issue on social media.
He tweeted: “2022 has been the toughest year to date.
“Just wanna thank you all for the support, none of you go unnoticed.
“It’s naturally effected me mentally, I’m currently just tryna deal with the cards I’ve been dealt. I hope your end of year is filled with peace, joy and happiness.”
Chelsea boss Graham Potter expressed his concern over James’ injury after the victory but insisted it would be a waiting game to discover the full prognosis.
He said: “It’s really too soon, but it’s the same area so we are concerned and we’ll have to see over the next 24-48 hours.
“He felt something there and we will have to find out the extent of it and keep our fingers crossed. He’s disappointed, of course he is. At the moment, we are hoping it isn’t as bad.
“He’s been really disappointed to miss the World Cup, of course. It was a huge blow to him. You could see today his quality and what he brings to the team.
“He’s had to deal with the injury and he’s done that well. The plan was to play 60 minutes today so now he’s disappointed, of course.
“We hope it’s not as bad as it was and he can have a speedy recovery.”
James sustained his initial knee problem in October during a Champions League fixture with AC Milan.
An eight-week lay-off was predicted, which would have seen him fit for around the knockout stage of the World Cup but England boss Gareth Southgate decided against selecting the defender in his 26-man squad in November.
James conceded to being “devastated” at the time having worn a knee brace for a month in an effort to try and speed up his recovery in order to be fit for the tournament in Qatar.
He will now face a waiting game to discover the extent of this latest knee injury. Chelsea are next in action on New Year’s Day at Nottingham Forest.