Chelsea suffer fresh injury blow before crunch Aston Villa clash

Aston Villa are out of the FA Cup after losing to Chelsea at Villa Park
Enzo Fernandez won't be playing against Villa this time around -Credit:Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Enzo Fernandez - the Chelsea midfielder who scored a wonderful free kick in the Blues' FA Cup win at Aston Villa earlier in the season - will be missing when they head to Villa Park for their Premier League encounter on Saturday night. The World Cup winner has been managing an inguinal hernia problem in recent weeks, according to reports in his native Argentina, and he has been ruled out for the remainder of this season.

Fernandez, who cost Chelsea north of £100m, is set to undergo surgery according to Ole, in a bid to be fit for Argentina's defence of their Copa America title and then onwards into the new Premier League campaign - but he'll be sacrificing these final few games of what has been a hugely underwhelming first season under Mauricio Pochettino.

Fernandez was one of the main architects of Villa's bowing out of the FA Cup back in February; having played out a goalless draw in the original tie, the Blues won 3-1 at Villa Park in the replay thanks to goals from Fernandez, Conor Gallagher and Nicolas Jackson. It's a significant blow to Chelsea, who were without top scorer Cole Palmer in the 5-0 drubbing at Arsenal on Tuesday night and who hope to have him back in the squad on Saturday.

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Fernandez will be unable to train for three weeks after surgery, and it was decided that - after consulting with the Argentinian medical team - he ought to go under the knife after Chelsea's season effectively ended on Saturday when they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City at the semi-final stage.

"For sure he is going to be much better next season, after the experience of the whole season in this squad and this team,' Pochettino said of Fernandez recently. "He’s more experienced, he gets better feelings. The whole season is good for him to learn. Even if he is a world champion, he needs to adapt to the Premier League and to this club. For me, there is no doubt that he is going to be much better."

Villa, meanwhile, will have Douglas Luiz back from his two-match suspension, served in the wins over Arsenal and Bournemouth, but they remain without long-term absentees Tyrone Mings, Emiliano Buendia and Boubacar Kamara.

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