Eden Hazard is out of Premier League leaders Chelsea’s game against Sunderland on Wednesday night with injury and will be replaced by Willian.
Hazard, who has been central to Chelsea’s nine match winning run which has taken them three points clear at the top, was left limping after a tough tackle during their 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
He had to be substituted late in the game, and was replaced by Branislav Ivanovic.
As a precaution Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has decided to leave the Belgium international out of his squad for the midweek fixture.
Hazard has not traveled to the north east, ensuring the Sunderland game will be the first he has missed all season for Chelsea.
The news is a major blow for the Blues, who could firmly tighten their grip on the Premier League title race with a win, after second placed Arsenal lost at Everton on Tuesday evening.
Hazard, PFA Player of the Year in 2015, has rediscovered his form for Chelsea this season after disappointing last campaign, playing in the left forward role in Antonio Conte’s successful 3-4-3 formation.
But with the 2014/15 champions facing five games in 22 days over the festive period, Conte has decided not to take a risk with one of his key players.
It is not yet known if Hazard will be fit to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.