LONDON • Chelsea's troubled season has taken another turn for the worse with the revelation that Thibaut Courtois, their first-choice goalkeeper, could be absent for at least the next 10 weeks with a knee injury.
The 23-year-old Belgium international will miss the champions' Premier League game at Everton today and the start of their Champions League group campaign.
"I cannot tell you much but I can tell you he needs surgery in his right knee and will be out for quite a long time," manager Jose Mourinho said yesterday.
The Belgium goalkeeper, widely regarded as one of the world's best at his position, tore his meniscus - a piece of knee cartilage - on Wednesday during training.
"It is a big blow, it is not easy to have the best goalkeeper in the world injured but it's easy to have one of the best in the world to play and we have (Asmir) Begovic to play," Mourinho said. "I'm very sad for Thibaut and the team but we have a top 'keeper - Begovic will be in goal (against Everton)."
Chelsea, who sold long-time first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech to Arsenal in June, have made a disappointing start to the season. They have taken four points from their first four matches to fall eight points behind leaders Manchester City.
Eden Hazard admitted that Mourinho's side are struggling to adapt to life as champions because "everyone wants to kill you".
The Belgian pointed to the extra pressure of defending the title, as opponents raise their game to unexpectedly high levels.
Meanwhile, Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he holds no grudge against Mourinho, despite accusing the Chelsea manager of trying to pressure John Stones into a move to Stamford Bridge.
The Toffees resisted offers of up to £30 million (S$66 million) from the Blues for the England defender.
When asked whether he would shake Mourinho's hand at Goodison Park, Martinez replied: "Of course I will. I am not against clubs being interested in our players.
"I understand (Mourinho's interest) 100 per cent.
"But you cannot comment about another player of another club because the Premier League rules do not allow you to do it."
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