Chelsea's Portuguese central defender Ricardo Carvalho has been ruled out of action for up to eight weeks after suffering a spinal column injury during last weekend's 1-1 draw with Everton.

Portugal national team doctor Henrique Jones examined the injury and instantly ruled him out of their UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers with Armenia and Finland.

"Ricardo has suffered fractures of the small bones on his second, third and fourth vertebrae and will be out for eight weeks," he said.

The news will come as a major blow to Blues boss Avram Grant, who already has Petr Cech, John Terry and Paulo Ferreira sidelined.

Carvalho, capped 39 times, is a member of the Portugal sides that reached both the EURO 2004 final and Germany 2006 semi-finals.

Portugal are in a four way fight for the two qualifying positions in Group A - presently they lie second just a point behind leaders Poland, but just three points ahead of both Serbia and Finland.