Essien nearing return to fitness
Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is two weeks away from a return to action, according to Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas.
It has been a frustrating time for Essien - a knee injury sustained during pre-season training has prevented the 29-year-old from playing any part in the current campaign.
However, Villas-Boas is confident the Ghana international will be available for first-team selection within the next couple of weeks.
He said: "I think mid-January. He will be introduced to first-team activity in mid-January and [in] contention properly - I think we are looking at three weeks for him to gain form and start competing to the level that the others are.
"It could take less time if we are positive about it and maybe in two weeks he can reach that level of form to come back for the team."
The fixtures are coming thick and fast - Chelsea's next two games are against Aston Villa on New Year's Eve and at Wolves on Tuesday - but Villas-Boas says Essien, and fellow absentees Branislav Ivanovic and John Mikel Obi, are not in his immediate plans.
He added: "I think Ivanovic and Obi are making good progress but will continue to be out of the game, these two fixtures that are coming, and also Essien the same."
Re: Essien nearing return to fitness
Hmmm knee bus