Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc has said that key midfielder Marco Verratti will need to rest a troublesome groin injury before their Champions League clash with Chelsea.
Verratti, 23, sat out PSG's 3-1 win over Lorient on Wednesday as the reigning French champions restored a 24-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.
On Thursday, L'Equipe reported that the Italy international is now a serious doubt for the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against Chelsea on Feb. 16.
The former Pescara player has been bothered by the groin problem since the middle of January but he had made his return in a decisive 31-minute cameo in PSG's 2-0 victory at St Etienne on Sunday.
Speaking after leaving him out against Lorient, Blanc confirmed that Verratti has the same issue as he suffered from last month.
"Yes, which is still aggravated," Blanc told reporters. "So he needs rest. Given the schedule that we have... honestly rest with this schedule I find it hard to see how we'll do that.
"But we'll give him rest and I hope it will last for as little time as possible."
Verratti missed the best part of six weeks earlier this season after hurting his ankle during PSG's 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid on Nov. 3.
Argentine attacking midfielder Javier Pastore and Dutch right-back Gregory van der Wiel also have knocks at the moment and Blanc said it had been important to try and protect the squad over a busy few weeks.
"Verratti, Pastore, Van der Wiel -- that's a lot of people who have little niggles," the former France head coach said.
"That's the way it is with all the teams in Europe. Whatever the club, whatever the squad, when you have a schedule where you're playing every week, every three or four days.
"You're going to say to me that you're prepared for that -- yes. But at a certain point, it starts to weigh on you. That's why I think it's necessary to have a significant rotation."