Suggestions that Antonio Rudiger was ready to return to the Chelsea squad were premature, manager Frank Lampard has said.
Centre-back Rudiger has endured an injury-plagued start to the season and managed just one appearance under Lampard.
The 26-year-old Germany international, who underwent knee surgery during the summer before sustaining a pelvic problem, has been quoted as saying he was available to boost the Blues’ options ahead of Saturday’s game at Watford.
But Lampard told a press conference: “No, he’s not fit. I saw the quotes, whether there was a miscommunication somewhere, he’s not fit.
“He’s going to see a consultant on Monday because he has an ongoing issue in his pelvic area which is bothering him so I was a bit surprised by the quotes, it’s a miscommunication, he’s not there.”
Blues midfielder N’Golo Kante is closing in on a return from a groin problem and Lampard is keen to have the influential pair back in contention.
“Every player in the squad that’s not available is disappointing but it comes with the territory, injuries are there,” said Lampard.
“Himself [Rudiger] and N’Golo are obviously top players and carried over injuries from last season – different injuries now but it’s been a domino effect.
“We’ll keep going and as soon as both of them are fit – N’Golo’s close, he’s working with the team now – we’ll be all the better for that.”
Chelsea’s seven-match winning run in all competitions was ended by Tuesday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup loss to Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard is keen to quickly bounce back but will not be underestimating winless Watford.
“We saw what they did last year, getting big results and regularly being a very strong team and making the FA Cup final,” said Lampard.
“We cannot underestimate the team that will be hurting because they haven’t won for a while and will have every ambition to try and win this game, so I certainly have even more focus on what we need to do.”
Midfielder Ross Barkley remains sidelined by an ankle injury but centre-back Andreas Christensen is closing in on a return following a hamstring problem.