Chelsea's Kurt Zouma faces six months out after knee surgery
LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea's French defender Kurt Zouma needs knee surgery and is likely to be out of action for six months, the Premier League champions said on Monday.
The news is a blow for the west Londoners, who face Paris St Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League next week, and Zouma's hopes of playing at the European championship finals in France in June.
Chelsea said the 21-year-old centre back, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2014 and has become a team regular, injured his anterior cruciate ligament in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
"Kurt will undergo surgery in the next 48 hours and is expected to be out for approximately six months," they said on their website (www.chelseafc.com).
Zouma has been on the fringes of his national team ahead of Euro 2016, earning his first cap last March and playing twice, but has made 32 appearances for Chelsea.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Zouma took to Twitter to reveal the news, where he also revealed that he will undergo the surgery.
The defender has already had opposition players wish him a speedy recovery, with Luke Shaw, who suffered a similar injury, wishing him well on Twitter.
Zouma, who has started 16 of Chelsea’s last 19 matches, injured himself after he landed awkwardly on the Stamford Bridge turf after jumping up high to clear a ball. The Frenchman’s right knee twisted behind him, and in addition to the sickening visuals, his snaguished screams were picked up by the pitchsided microphones. Players of both sides rushed to comfort him, immediately realizing the seriousness of the injury.
The injury to Zouma comes at a bad time for Chelsea, as the club just let Papa Djilobodji go out on loan, which means that Gary Cahill and John Terry are the only experienced central defensive pair available to them. Branislav Ivanovic could deputize for the Blues, but that could leave Chelsea short in the fullback position. New signing Matt Miazga is also an option, though he is untested in the Premier League.
Chelsea host Newcastle at home in the Premier League, before they face PSG in the Champions League, games where they are sure to miss the injured Zouma.