BRANISLAV IVANOVIC has decided to appeal against a charge of violent conduct brought against him by the English Football Association.
The Chelsea defender was charged after an incident with Wigan midfielder Shaun Maloney during Saturday's 2-1 win over Roberto Martinez's side, and could face a three-match ban if found guilty. The case was due to be heard today by an FA regulatory commission.
The Blues face a defensive crisis which threatens to derail their season should Ivanovic fail in his appeal.
They would be without the 28-year-old for three key London derbies if he is found guilty of striking Maloney -- starting with Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea's interim manager, already has enough problems in defence with his captain, John Terry, playing through the pain of cracked ribs and left-back Ashley Cole's ankle injury reportedly worse than was first feared.
The FA charged Ivanovic after examining video footage of his clash with Maloney, which took place moments before Juan Mata's controversial winner at Stamford Bridge.
Referee Mike Jones confirmed he and his assistants did not witness the incident, giving the FA the green light to investigate it retrospectively.
The video footage shows Maloney going down bent double after appearing to be struck in the midriff.
As well as the Spurs semi-final, Ivanovic faces missing two league derbies, against Arsenal and QPR.
Martinez said he did not want Ivanovic banned.
"As a player, if you do something wrong you should be punished at that moment," he said. "I don't see the point of punishing someone retrospectively."
Meanwhile, former Chelsea midfielder Gianfranco Zola has expressed interest in becoming manager of the club, but concedes the prospect is unlikely as Pep Guardiola, Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps have all been linked with the post.