LONDON • Kurt Zouma's devastating knee injury could bring a reprieve for John Terry at Chelsea, after the captain's central defensive partner was ruled out for at least six months on Monday.
The France centre-back is coming to terms with missing out on a first senior tournament appearance on home soil at the European Championship this summer, and may not be fit for the start of next season, leaving the Blues to reconsider Terry's contract situation.
Chelsea have emphasised their intention to retain a dialogue with Terry, despite his insistence after Sunday's 1-1 draw at home with Manchester United that he is not involved in talks with the hierarchy.
Zouma's right leg buckled upon landing after a routine clearance in the second half against United. Scans on Monday confirmed anterior cruciate ligament damage.
The 21-year-old will have surgery once the swelling has receded.
Chelsea expect Zouma to be out for at least six months, bringing a premature end to his first season as a first-team regular in England.
He has started 16 of the London club's past 19 games, invariably alongside Terry and keeping Gary Cahill out of the team, impressing as the Blues regained some defensive solidity during a 10-match unbeaten run under Guus Hiddink.
Ironically, Zouma's cruel blow will increase Cahill's chances of appearing in France this summer, as the England defender will now receive the game time that he has so far been denied under Hiddink.
The 30-year-old has started one Premier League match under the Dutchman and expressed concern last month that a lack of action may damage his prospects of being selected by Roy Hodgson.
Terry could also be a beneficiary, particularly if Chelsea have retained an open mind about his future, as his absence leaves them short of centre-backs.
Matt Miazga, 20, is a long-term prospect, while Michael Hector and Papy Djilobodji, who are out on loan, appear to have no future at the club.
THE TIMES, LONDON