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Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger came off with an injured knee during the defeat at Anfield on Sunday.

Rudiger has been ruled out of Thursday’s Europa League game against Slavia Prague but according to Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola, Rudiger won’t be out for too long as first feared.

“It looks not as bad as we thought, luckily,” said Zola at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.

“When he came off limping we were worried, but apparently it is not that bad, plus he is a strong boy and he will be back sooner than you expect.”

Indeed that return may even be as soon as the important meeting with Manchester United in two weekends’ time.

“There is a strong possibility that we will see him, he is a warrior and he does not want to miss a game like that,” confirmed Zola. “The next few days will be very important to see if he can continue to progress and recover so quickly.

“Obviously he is an important player for us, I’ve seen Antonio improving in many ways, the way he plays with the ball and the way he is defending, he will be missed but we have already alternated the three defenders many times and when Andreas Christensen has come in to play with David Luiz, he has done very well. He is another one who has grown so much in security and confidence. So he [Rudiger] will be missed but I am sure those who are playing will do well.”

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