Chelsea blow as Enzo Fernandez ruled out for rest of season

Enzo Fernandez of Chelsea during the Premier League match at Arsenal on April 23, 2024
Enzo Fernández has been suffering from an inguinal hernia - Getty Images/Alex Pantling

Mauricio Pochettino has suffered a new blow in his bid to solidify his position as Chelsea head coach with midfielder Enzo Fernandez ruled out for the rest of the season.

Fernandez has undergone surgery on a groin injury that will rule him out of Chelsea’s final six games, which start away at Aston Villa on Saturday night.

No decision has been made on Pochettino’s future past this season, with the club still believing there is plenty to play for and Chelsea still able to qualify for Europe.

But Pochettino needs a strong end to the season to help his case to stay on into the second year of his Chelsea contract, ahead of a summer review, and losing Fernandez will certainly not help his cause.

Fernandez had been managing his injury for some time which has clearly impacted his form, but the absence of the 23-year-old, who cost £105 million, is another blow to Pochettino who has been faced with an injury crisis all season.

According to reports in Argentina, Fernandez had been suffering from an inguinal hernia, a problem that affects the groin region between the lower abdomen and the thigh, for over a month.

Fernandez, who was withdrawn in the thrashing by Arsenal on Tuesday night, is hoping to be fit in time to play for Argentina at the Copa America in June and Pochettino had last week suggested that his long-term fitness would be put over any short-term gain.

Last week, Pochettino said: “We are going to do what is the best for him. Again, we have experience of managing this situation. First of all, the most important thing is him as a person, not as a player. It’s about how he feels and if he is comfortable with the situation or not.

“We will all support his decision [if he feels he needs surgery]. We are not going to force him to do something. We are here to help and advise him of our assessment and experience. We don’t want heroes. No, we want players that can perform in their best way to help the team achieve what we want.”

With summer signing Romeo Lavia also out, Pochettino is likely to have to play Conor Gallagher in a deeper midfield role alongside Moises Caicedo for the remainder of the season.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.