Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has revealed that midfielder Michael Essien is close to returning from injury.
The Ghanaian international is yet to feature for the Blues this term, damaging knee ligaments during pre-season training to put him out of action for months.
However, the 29-year-old is now just weeks away from full fitness, and could be in contention for the former Porto boss as close as mid-January.
"I think mid-January. He will be introduced to first-team activity in mid-January and 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," said Villas-Boas ahead of Saturday's clash against Aston Villa.
"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."
Essien won't be the only player missing the clash against the Villains, with both Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi-Mikel also unavailable for both that and the Wolves clash on Tuesday night.
"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."