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Chelsea dealt huge blow ahead of Borussia Dortmund match despite quartet returning to training



(Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Chelsea have been dealt a blow ahead of their Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund with Raheem Sterling absent from training, while Mateo Kovacic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Denis Zakaria all took to the pitch.

The Blues travel to Germany to face Dortmund in the round of 16 after topping a group containing AC Milan, Dinamo Zagreb and RB Salzburg.

Dortmund side finished runners up to Manchester City in Group G, with just one loss in the competition so far.

The task will be a tough one, with Dortmund boasting one of the best crowds in Europe as their ‘Yellow Wall’ will be egging the team on at Signal Iduna Park.

These supporters have been boosted by news that the stadium will host 81,000 fans for the first time in Champions League knock-out history, an increase from a previous 61,000 crowd.

Graham Potter will be hopeful of returning to winning ways, holding an impressive record with his side in the Champions League since he took over.

However, Potter has received a blow ahead of the clash with his players taking the the training pitch just 24 hours before they face Dortmund.

Sterling, who missed Chelea’s London derby against West Ham at the weekend, was not present among the players who trained.

David Datro Fofana was also not seen in training, although he is ineligible to face Borussia Dortmund due to registration restrictions.

With Chelsea making no less than eight January signings, only three new players could be registered for the competition.

Potter opted to include marquee signings Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez among his squad, leaving no space for any other new signings.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also excluded from the squad for the remainder of the competition, meaning he will miss a return to Dortmund.

Despite the blow to Sterling, Potter will be please to have a quartet of players returning ahead of the clash.

Midfield duo Kovacic and Zakaria were training with the team and are thought to be in selection for the clash.

Elsewhere, with Benoit Badiashile not in the Champions League squad, Potter has a decision to make in defence.

Koulibaly missed the trip to West Ham on the weekend through illness but returned to training on Tuesday while defender Fofana has stepped up his return from injury and also trained.

It remains to be seen as to who will replace Badiashile for the European clash, with Trevoh Chalobah also an option.