CHELSEA are facing a desperate race against time to get both David Luiz and Gary Cahill fit for next month's Champions League final.
With John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic among four Chelsea players suspended - midfielders Raul Meireles and Ramires also miss out after collecting bookings in Barcelona - they are woefully short of defenders for the Munich showpiece on May 19.
This raises the prospect of Jose Bosingwa being drafted in as an emergency centre-half.
Luiz missed both legs of the semi-final against Barcelona after tearing his hamstring in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on April 15.
Normally such an injury has at least a four-week rehabilitation programme, and it is hoped the Brazilian international will return to training in the week of the Champions League final.
It would appear unlikely that he will be risked before then and there is also the issue of match fitness.
Cahill, meanwhile, pulled up injured early on during the semi-final second leg in Barcelona.
He said: "I'm hoping it's better than we first thought. I turned awkwardly and my foot got stuck and I just felt a pop at the top of my hamstring.
"Jogging around it didn't feel too bad but when the ball went in behind and I had to sprint I realised I'd done something to it."
The extent of his injury is still being assessed, but there is hope that it might only be a strain, which would mean a quicker return to fitness than Luiz.
However, the issue for him will be mobility and whether he can sprint properly.
It all means that Terry and Ivanovic look set to be Chelsea's central defensive pairing in their remaining Premier League matches, and also for the FA Cup final on May 5.
There is an added complication in that Terry is suffering from two cracked ribs, and Chelsea's interim head coach, Roberto Di Matteo, had hoped to ration the player's appearances as the Blues look to secure fourth place in the league and win the FA Cup.
Cahill said he was "praying" his injury was "not too bad".
He added: "To miss these games coming up, my hamstring will have to be absolutely torn to shreds."