The Blues will be without 10 first-team players as they attempt to mount a comeback against Middlesbrough in the 2nd leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal showdown.

Chelsea are gearing up for their crucial Carabao Cup semifinal showdown with Middlesbrough this Tuesday. However, the London giants will have to mount a comeback without one key player.

That man is Christopher Nkunku, the highly-rated French attacker who shined upon his much-anticipated return from injury only to suffer another setback shortly afterward.

The former RB Leipzig missed almost the entire first half of the Premier League season after suffering a serious knee injury during the preseason. He made a triumphant return in December, making the bench in one game, coming off the bench in another two fixtures, and starting only once. The 26-year-old also scored on his Premier League debut, getting on the scoresheet in a 2-1 loss away to Wolves.

Sadly, the attacker suffered a hip injury in training in early January before even completing his first 90 for the club. While this issue is not a serious injury, Pochettino dismissed rumors of an early return during his pre-match press conference for the second-leg tie against the Boro and confirmed his absence for Tuesday's match.

"No. He's not available," the Argentine said, as per Goal.

"It's a shame. He's still recovering. He suffered a little bit in his hip, now he's recovering. It's not a big issue. It's just delayed the possibility of being available again."

There had been speculation of an unexpected return in time for the reverse fixture but Nkunku will sadly watch another Chelsea game from the stands. This thus leaves Pochettino without 10 first-team players, including the likes of Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, and Nicolas Jackson — the latter is currently with Senegal at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ivory Coast.

On the bright side, while the London giants suffered a frustrating defeat in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal, it was merely a 1-0 loss, which is a manageable deficit to overcome. Sterling and Co. will have the home advantage but will feel the pressure to deliver.

With Pochettino's side currently sitting ninth in the Premier League table, the Carabao Cup could be the club's only means of achieving something meaningful this season. Chelsea face Aston Villa on Friday in the FA Cup and could crash out of England's other domestic cup competition. However, Nkunku could recover in time for that fixture, which would be a huge boost.