Essien makes reserve return

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Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien continued on the road to recovery by playing 75 minutes for the club's reserves on Monday.

The Ghanian, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during pre-season training last summer, underwent surgery in July.

The injury was the third serious knee injury suffered by Essien in as many years, leading to fears the 29-year-old would be unable to return to full fitness.

However, this latest comeback comes as major boost to Andre Villas-Boas, who will hope to call upon the midfield enforcer as the club look to progress in the FA Cup and the Champions League.

After making a significant step in his attempts to reclaim a first-team spot, Villas-Boas will look to utilise Essien from the bench in the coming weeks before handing him his first start, perhaps in time for the league clash with Manchester United on February 5th.

Essien is expected to be one of three players added to Chelsea's Champions League squad, with Villas-Boas yesterday confirming that Gary Cahill would be joined by one other player in the January transfer window.

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