Chelsea fear facing Stoke barrage without Ricardo Carvalho as defender pulls out of Portugal squad

Ricardo Carvalho has cast a shadow over Chelsea’s FA Cup preparations by pulling out of Portugal’s friendly with China.

Inter Milan's Argentinian forward Alberto Milito Diego (L) fights for the ball with Chelsea's Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho

Blow: Carvalho (right) tackles Inter Milan's Diego Milto

The Chelsea defender was selected by coach Carlos Queiroz for the World Cup warm-up fixture and looked set for his 61st cap after training on Tuesday without any ill-effects.

But he is believed to have reported some discomfort in his knee on Wednesday morning, and, after having him examined by Portugal’s medical staff, Queiroz ruled him out and handed his place in central defence to Sporting Lisbon’s Tonel.

With a quarter-final tie against Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is now anxiously awaiting an update on the seriousness of the 31-year old’s latest injury setback.

Mindful of the physical threat posed by Ricardo Fuller, Ancelotti is eager to field a full-strength combination in the centre of defence as he bids to move a step nearer Wembley in his first season in English football.