Ricardo Carvalho added to Chelsea's injury woes on Thursday when the English Premier League title-chasers said the defender could be out of action for at least a month.
Centre-half Carvalho suffered ankle ligament damage during Chelsea's 5-0 win away to basement club Portsmouth, a victory that left them just a point behind leaders Manchester United. If the injury is worse than first feared, Carvalho could miss the rest of this season.
"Chelsea can confirm that Ricardo Carvalho suffered ankle ligament damage in last night's game against Portsmouth," a club spokesman said Thursday. "The club will be able to determine over the next 24 hours whether the injury requires corrective surgery, however we can confirm at this point that he'll be out for at least four weeks."
Carvalho's injury has left Chelsea with just two first-choice central defenders in Brazilian Alex and captain John Terry. The Portuguese international's setback comes just days after right-back Branislav Ivanovic was ruled out for a month following a knee injury sustained during the 1-1 draw at Blackburn last weekend.
The Blues have been without left-back Ashley Cole (ankle), midfielder Michael Essien (knee) and right-back Jose Bosingwa (ankle) for much of the current season.