Success for Chelsea this season could hinge on the Court of Arbitration for Sport - and assistant manager Ray Wilkins admits the Blues are worried at the prospect of losing four key players in January, with no means of replacing them.
Chelsea have appealed to the CAS against a transfer ban implemented by FIFA, who found them guilty of inducing teenager Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens two years ago.
The west London side have asked for the ban, over two transfer windows, to be delayed while the CAS consider their case - something which may not happen until the new year because of the administrators' packed schedule.
Such a delay could allow Chelsea to sign players in the January transfer window, and make allowances for the absences of four members of the squad taking part in the African Nations Cup.
They are expected to learn within the next fortnight if their request for a review of their case has been successful. It is a decision which could have a major bearing on Carlo Ancelotti's first season in charge, with strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou and midfielders John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien on international duty in Angola from January 10-31.
Wilkins insists Chelsea are confident in their squad strength, but believes the absences of the quartet will have a significant impact.
"If you look at the four we will lose and you take the equivalent four out of any team in the country, then you are naturally concerned," he said. "We would not suggest for one minute we are not concerned, because they are top quality footballers - and we are going to be missing those guys.
"It would be very pleasant to be able to bring people in - because we lose some influential players in Kalou, Drogba, Essien and Mikel - but we have a squad here that is more than capable of coping with that situation. We are going to lose some massive footballers - but that is life. We knew the African Nations Cup was coming around and we will have to deal with it."
Wilkins admits transfer plans remain part of Chelsea's strategy as they wait for a verdict on the suspension request.
"I am sure Carlo's got a few names out there he would like to bring in," added Wilkins. "But until the situation is resolved, we will just have to crack on. If the ban is lifted then all well and good."
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