Benayoun blow for Blues
Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun has been ruled out for up to six months due to an Achilles injury suffered while on international duty with Israel.
The 30-year-old, who joined the Blues from Liverpool in the summer, will undergo surgery on the injury on Monday, the club have confirmed.
Benayoun ruptured his Achilles during an Israel training session last week before returning to the club.
"Yossi Benayoun will undergo surgery on his Achilles on Monday," a statement on the club's website said. "The Israeli international returned to the club from international duty last week, and will now be out of action for approximately six months."
That effectively means the midfielder will be out of action for the remainder of the season with any return unlikely to occur before the end of April.
It leaves the Blues short on midfield cover after after they signed Benayoun as a replacement for Joe Cole, who they opted to release at the end of last year.
The west London club are also currently without Salomon Kalou, who is due to return to training next week, while Frank Lampard has been sidelined for three weeks after undergoing surgery on his groin.
Benayoun had hoped to avoid a long lay-off after suffering the injury, despite the Israeli football association releasing a statement saying he faced "several months" on the sidelines.
But his worst fears have been realised after returning to London for scans and reports have suggested he will now have the surgery in Finland, where David Beckham underwent a similar procedure.
Benayoun has not played for the Blues since he suffered a calf injury in their Carling Cup defeat to Newcastle on September 22. He has only just recovered from that injury before he was called up by Isreal for their Euro 2012 qualifiers against Greece and Croatia.