Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has welcomed the return of Michael Essien to the first team.
The Ghanaian midfielder made his first appearance of the season when he came on as a substitute against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues boss voiced his pleasure at being able to call on Essien again and remarked on the speed at which the midfielder had returned.
“To see a player make the switch so quickly from reserves to first team intensity in a short time is amazing,” he said.
“We have to congratulate the medical department, it's very gratifying to have him back due to the type of person he is and the player he represents and its fantastic to have a player of his quality back in the team.”
The 29-year-old has yet to feature this season due to rupturing a cruciate knee ligament in pre-season training.
His return will come as a boost to Villas-Boas who has had to deal with injuries and loss of form for many of his midfielders.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech was also pleased with the former Lyon player’s return, saying it would give the Blues a advantage going into the second half of the season.
“It's great to have Michael back. He'll need a run of games to gain match fitness but he's been working tremendously hard and well to come back,” he said.
“You could see how eager he was to come off the bench against Sunderland, and it will only build up from there.
“It's a great moment for everybody to have him back: he's a very strong guy, mentally and physically, which is why he has been able to come back again.”
Essien has had to be strong as this was his third major injury in the last few years and Chelsea will be hoping to count on him in the run-in.
However, the Ghana international’s return came a little too late for a call-up to the Black Stars squad at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The box-to-box midfielder is unlikely to be starting any games soon, but Villas-Boas is expected to once again name him amongst the substitutes for their trip to Norwich City in the early kick-off this coming Saturday.
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