Chelsea's hopes of improving their woeful recent defence performances have been dealt a major blow. with Antonio Conte revealing John Terry will not return from injury for Saturday's (1 October) Premier League trip to newly-promoted Hull City. The long-serving captain has been out since suffering an ankle injury during a 2-2 draw at struggling Swansea City earlier in September and will remain absent this weekend as the Blues seek to avoid heading into the latest international break on the back of a third consecutive top-flight defeat.
Chelsea have been hopeless at the back in Terry's absence, with the chronically out-of-form Gary Cahill and £34m ($44m) deadline day returnee David Luiz forming a wholly unconvincing partnership at centre-back. Branislav Ivanovic has also continued to struggle badly after previously being considered as one of the world's best right-backs, while holding midfielder Nemanja Matic is facing sustained criticism following a series of underwhelming performances.
Terry returned to training last week after missing Conte's first defeat, against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, although he did not appear in either the subsequent 4-2 EFL Cup third-round win over Leicester City or last week's sobering 3-0 defeat to Arsenal – their worst loss to the Gunners since 1997.
Initial reports suggested that he was expected to return to the squad for Hull, although Conte, who reverted to his favoured three-man defensive system during the latter stages of that disappointing evening in North London with substitute Marcos Alonso and the versatile Cesar Azpilicueta deployed as wing-backs, has revealed that is not the case.
" He wasn't available [against Arsenal] because he hadn't recovered from his injury," the manager said at his pre-match press conference, as relayed by the London Evening Standard. "I think we will see him after the international break."
Conte also confirmed that Mikel John Obi will miss the clash with Hull with what he labelled as a "small muscular problem". The 29-year-old midfielder, out of contract next summer, has yet to play for his club so far this season after captaining Nigeria's men's U23 football team to bronze medals at the Rio Olympic Games. Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel, meanwhile, continue to recover from long-term knee injuries.