Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admits his side are facing a defensive crisis ahead of their all-important Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Blues will be without German centre-back Antonio Rudiger after he underwent knee surgery which has ruled him for the remainder of the season and the sporadically used Gary Cahill is also out of action with an Achilles issue.

As a result, Chelsea will be forced to field the makeshift defensive partnership of David Luiz and Andreas Christensen in the heart of the back four with Cezar Azpilicueta the only other option to fill in if one of the aforementioned fell to an injury.

“We are in trouble with the centre-backs,” Sarri said.

“In the last two training sessions, we played with Azpilicueta as a centre-back in case. I think he’s the only one who can play there,

“We’ve played 58 matches and, in the past, we were lucky with injuries. In the last 10 days, not so lucky.”

The Italian manager believes that Christensen can be a major asset upon his introduction as he has featured in almost 50% of their contests this season but believes the problem is in the depth.

“Christensen has played about 25 matches during the season, so he is ready,” Sarri said.

“He’s played very important matches very well. Christensen isn’t the problem. The problem is the numbers.”

However, Sarri has put down the challenge to his players to treat the Europa League with the same importance as their push for a top four finish in the Premier League as they look to lock in a return to the Champions League next season.

“At the moment, we need to get the top four in the Premier League because we want to play the next Champions League,” he said.

“Of course, the Europa League is important. It’s a very important trophy. But we need to think about the Premier League.”

Nick D’Urbano