Lampard: We must chip in while Drogba is out

FRANK LAMPARD has demanded his Chelsea team-mates help shoulder the goalscoring burden after Didier Drogba suffered a potentially serious knee ligament injury.

Drogba left the CFR Cluj stadium with his right leg in a brace after Chelsea’s 0-0 Champions League draw and is awaiting the results of a scan.

An extended lay-off would leave Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who is already working with a small squad, short of options up front.

Nicolas Anelka is Chelsea’s only other senior out-and-out striker, otherwise Salomon Kalou or the inexperienced Argentinian Franco Di Santo would have to be pressed into action through the middle.

“If Didier is out for a while, we will have to pitch in with goals from all around the team, which we can do, though the situation is not ideal,” said Lampard, who has scored five times already this season.

“Nicolas is a top-class striker, and we also have Salomon and young Franco di Santo. The experience is not really there, but I believe the quality is.

“Hearing about Didier was the bad news of the day because he is so important to us. He has been out before with a knee injury. I hope it’s not as bad as it looked and that he can be back as soon as possible.”

Drogba’s injury is not the only worry for manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who could be without eight first-team regulars for Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.

Drogba joins Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien and Joe Cole on the sidelines, while left-back Ashley Cole missed last night’s game due to a back problem and defenders Alex and John Terry both picked up injuries.

With Carvalho sidelined for a fortnight, Scolari will be anxious both Terry and Alex recover for the weekend or Chelsea will be out of senior centre-backs.

Scolari is at least optimistic that Ashley Cole will return to face Villa after sitting out the draw at Cluj with lower back pain.

The one consolation for Scolari following the trip to Romania is that his team remain top of Group A after escaping with a point.

Petr Cech was called upon to make two timely interventions and a reflex save late in the game to deny Cluj’s marauding fullback Alvaro Pereira.

Blues’ tale of woe

DIDIER DROGBA: The Ivory Coast international suffered suspected knee ligament damage in the Champions League goalless draw with Cluj.

Prognosis: A scan will reveal the damage but is expected to be on the sidelines for three months.

ASHLEY COLE: Sat out the match against Cluj with a problem in his lower back with Wayne Bridge given a rare run out.

Prognosis: The full-back should be fit enough to return for their Premier League clash with Aston Villa but may not be risked.

RICARDO CARVALHO: Injured knee ligaments in the first few minutes of Chelsea’s clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Prognosis: Will be unavailable for selection for at least three weeks.

JOE COLE: Missed Chelsea’s last two games after he suffered a slight tear in a muscle close to his hip. Prognosis: Chelsea optimistic of a swift return but the midfielder remains a doubtful for the weekend.

DECO: The Portugal international tore a thigh muscle in the pre-match warm-up for the clash with Manchester United. Prognosis: Definitely out against Aston Villa but should be fit to resume training shortly.

ALEX: Picked up buttock injury against Cluj but struggled through the final 15 minutes of the game in Romania. Prognosis: With Carvalho out, will probably be asked to play through the pain barrier against Villa this weekend.

MICHAEL ESSIEN: The midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a World Cup qualifier for Ghana in early September. Prognosis: Has had surgery and is not expected to return for another six months.

JOHN TERRY: Struggled towards the end of the match on Cluj’s hard pitch with a back problem. Prognosis: Likely to be involved against Aston Villa at the weekend.

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