Chelsea and Ghana midfielder Michael Essien has been ruled out of the FIFA World Cup™ due to injury.

The 27-year-old missed a large part of the recently-concluded season due to knee and ankle injuries and has hardly played any competitive football since December.

National coach Milovan Rajevac had hoped the former Lyon man would be passed fit for the showpiece tournament in South Africa this summer, but the Ghana Football Association today announced he was not expected to be back in action until the end of July.

Essien will not make full recovery until the end of July.

A statement on Ghana's Official Website.

A statement on Ghana's official website read: "An evaluation by a combined team of medical experts from the Ghana Football Association and Chelsea Football Club revealed that Essien will not make full recovery until the end of July. The Ghana Football Association wishes him full recovery and a quick return to football action."

Essien has been recovering from a knee injury picked up on CAF African Cup of Nations duty in Angola in January. He had been continuing his rehabilitation at Chelsea's training ground and had expressed confidence at being declared fit to be named in Ghana's squad for South Africa.

Essien had sounded optimistic about his chances of playing for his country next month when he told Chelsea's website last week: "I feel a lot better than I did a few weeks ago so I am keeping my fingers crossed that all will be well."

His absence is a huge blow for Ghana even if Rajevic's men did succeed in making it to the Africa Cup of Nations' final without him where they were beaten by defending champions Egypt.