ANTONIO CONTE has confirmed that David Luiz will be sidelined for at least another three weeks.
The Brazilian defender has been linked with a move away after a reported bust-up with his Chelsea boss.
However, Conte has insisted that their has been no fall-out and his 30-year-old star’s lack of action has been down to a knee problem.
And ahead of the Blues’ Carabao Cup quarter-final with Bournemouth on Wednesday, the ex-Juventus chief has revealed Luiz will be out for a while longer.
He will now not be back fit for action until the New Year, missing the clash with the Cherries and matches with Everton, Brighton, Stoke, Arsenal and Norwich over the festive period.
The ace is also a doubt for the Premier League clash with Leicester City on January 13.
Next month could be a big one for former Paris Saint-Germain man Luiz.
It emerged today that Newcastle United are interested in trying to secure his services on loan once the window re-opens.
FEELING THE LU-VE Newcastle join the race for out of favour Chelsea star David Luiz
Rafa Benitez is hoping to use his friendship with the player from his brief stint in charge at Stamford Bridge to persuade him to head north.
The Magpies will face plenty of stiff competition from a host of Europe’s big guns for him, including Prem rivals Arsenal.
Real Madrid and Juventus are both monitoring the former Paris Saint-Germain star’s situation too.
Barcelona have also allegedly joined the race for his services too, reports Mundo Deportivo.
Luiz’s recent absence has allowed youngster Andreas Christensen to break into the starting XI.
And the Danish international has made the most of his opportunity.
Conte did little to stop rumours of Luiz’s exit mounting when he was recently quizzed on the ace’s future, saying: “I don’t know.
“Andreas Christensen is the present and the future for Chelsea.”
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The champions originally signed Luiz from Benfica back in 2011 before he was firstly sold to PSG three years later.
But Conte made a shock move last year to bring him back to the capital on the final day of the summer transfer window.
Luiz, known for his flamboyance at the back, won huge acclaim following his return as he helped inspire the Blues to an impressive run of clean sheets as they romped to the title.