Chelsea are increasingly resigned to being without John Terry and Eden Hazard through injury for Wednesday's Europa League final, with the Belgian's absence raising the possibility that Frank Lampard could feature against Benfica and even captain the side in Amsterdam.
While Terry was never guaranteed to start having seen his role reduced under the interim manager Rafael Benítez, the ankle injury sustained by the centre-half in the victory at Aston Villa on Saturday has rendered him extremely doubtful regardless. The 32-year-old had left the pitch on a stretcher and even departed the training ground, after having the joint scanned on Sunday, wearing a protective boot.
While he is expected to fly with the team on Tuesday morning, the coaching staff do not anticipate having him available for the game. Hazard, too, should make the short flight to the Netherlands but the hamstring injury he suffered in stoppage time at Villa Park will rule him out. The winger, who has been in such fine form recently, underwent a scan on Monday but Benítez does not expect to have him available.
Victor Moses, who has scored five goals in this competition, is likely to start in Hazard's absence and Lampard could then slot back into midfield, most likely with Ramires. The England midfielder, 34, is normally Terry's deputy but would captain the side if selected – Petr Cech will be captain if Benítez opts against selecting Lampard – as Chelsea seek to become the first club to claim the Europa League 12 months after winning the European Cup. David Luiz is likely to revert to centre-half alongside Branislav Ivanovic.
Juan Mata, who has played 131 games for club and country in the last two seasons, will start against Benfica having expressed a desire to feature for Spain at the summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil despite his exhausting workload. The 25-year-old has been involved with summer tournaments in each of the past four close seasons – he played at both Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games last year, and previously at the European Under-21 Championship, a World Cup and another Confederations Cup – and will travel with Chelsea for their two-game tour of the United States next week.
Asked if he craved a breather from his schedule, Mata said: "No, no, I'm still alive. I'm ready to play the Confederations Cup. If we win another title with Chelsea and then win with Spain, it will be a perfect summer for me. It would be nice to play a team like Brazil, the best football country probably in history, so I hope that I am picked."
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