Chelsea captain John Terry has undergone surgery to cure his back injury.
But the Premiership champions have yet to reveal how long they expect the 26-year-old centre-half to be out of action.
“The operation to remove a sequestrated lumbar intervertebral disc was successful,” said a Chelsea statement.
Chelsea have conceded six goals in three league matches in the absence of Terry and have fallen four points behind Premiership pacesetters Manchester United.
The early indications are that Terry could return within weeks, although the surgeon who operated on the player believes that the recovery time could last three months.
“Sportsmen are a difficult bunch to deal with because they want to go back to their occupation as soon as the anaesthetic’s worn off,” said Dr Jean Destandau.
“Common sense says that good healing tissue takes a minimum of six weeks to develop. If you push your luck coming back in any less than that time you’re asking for trouble.
“Plenty of people do push their luck and get away with it. If I owned him I’d keep him on very light training for three months. Certainly a minimum of six weeks but preferably three months – get him match fit in three months’ time to make the end of the season.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted the absence of Terry has left him short of defensive options. There has even been a suggestion that striker Didier Drogba could fill in at the back on a temporary basis.
“I do not like to play at centre-back – but I do it for the team because sometimes we have difficult moments in the game,” said the striker.
The Blues have already conceded 15 league goals so far this season – only seven fewer than they did over the enire Premiership campaign last season.