Essien bad news for Blues

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Michael Essien's season appears to be over after Chelsea confirmed the Ghana international will not be back for the weekend clash with Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder has not appeared for Chelsea since December when he tore a hamstring against APOEL in the Champions League and then hurt his knee on international duty at the African Nations Cup. Having suffered some complications in his rehabilitation, the 27-year-old is now unlikely to figure again for the Blues this season.

"Michael Essien will not be in the squad for the weekend's game against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge," said a club spokesman. "The Ghanaian's participation in the remainder of the campaign is now in doubt, with only four games to play including the FA Cup Final on May 15."

Essien had hoped to be back in action in time for Chelsea's home Champions League leg against Inter Milan.

But his knee continued to swell-up and the player underwent four lots of surgery inside a fortnight. Chelsea have Stoke, Liverpool and Wigan to play in the league and Portsmouth in the FA Cup final at Wembley, but Essien is now almost certain to miss them all. 

Meanwhile, England midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored a late consolation goal, admitted the side's slow start cost them three points against Tottenham.

Chelsea's lead at the top of the Barclays summit was reduced to a single point after Tottenham's 2-1 win at White Hart Lane and Manchester United's late 1-0 success over City at Eastlands.

"The last thing you want to do when you go to White Hart Lane is give them a 1-0 lead at the start, especially in the derby," conceded Lampard. "When we went 1-0 down they got their confidence and when the game went to 2-0 it put us under a lot pressure and they are a good side.

"Then the game got messy in the second half and we went down to 10 men. But to be fair we had quite a lot of the ball in their box, we just couldn't find that last little pass.

"It's disappointing, especially with Manchester United's result. When they scored in the last minute it was hard. If they had drawn the game it would have left us in a very healthy position but now it's tighter."

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