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Chelsea blow as Essien ruled out for season

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is "unlikely" to play again this season. Reports on Tuesday suggested the midfielder could be in line to return from long-term injury for the Blues' league fixture against Stoke City at the weekend, but the club's head of communications Steve Atkins moved to refute such reports.

"Contrary to this morning's stories stating otherwise, Michael will definitely not be involved against Stoke on Sunday. He is unlikely to play again this season," Atkins confirmed to Goal.com UK.

The 27-year-old has not played for Carlo Ancelotti's side this year, after damaging knee ligaments while on international duty at the African Cup of Nations in January.

The injury was originally predicted to keep him sidelined for just six weeks, but almost three months later the former Olympique Lyonnais man's World Cup prospects are still in doubt.

 Click here for more Chelsea news and gossip

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