Chelsea captain John Terry will have knee surgery and be sidelined for up to six weeks, a further blow to the team's faltering season but relieving interim England coach Stuart Pearce of a potentially difficult roster selection.
Terry has not played for more than three weeks and Chelsea's medical team decided on Tuesday that the defender must have an operation on his right knee.
The center back trained Monday in Italy on the eve of Chelsea's Champions League match against Napoli but woke up in discomfort a day later.
"John has tried hard to be ready for tonight's game but it was clear after training last night that it was not going to be possible,'' Chelsea said in a statement. "He will undergo an exploratory arthroscopy in the next day or so, after which the club's medical team will be better placed to advise on a prognosis.''
Coach Andre Villas-Boas said Terry will be out for up to six weeks.
The injury saves Pearce from having to decide whether to select both Terry and Rio Ferdinand for his roster for next Wednesday's exhibition against the Netherlands.
Terry was stripped of the England captaincy this month due to his upcoming trial for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Fabio Capello quit as England coach after the Football Association stripped Terry of the captaincy without consulting the Italian.
Terry's absence will be less of a blow for England than for Chelsea, which hasn't won a game since he last played on Jan. 28 against QPR. Chelsea has slipped to fifth in the Premier League and tied Birmingham in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Terry has been troubled by the knee injury since colliding with a post last month in the FA Cup against Portsmouth.