England defenders Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole are recovering well from their recent injury setbacks, Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez has confirmed.
Cahill (knee) and Cole (hamstring) are stepping up their recoveries, but both are still likely to miss crucial matches before the end of the season, including tomorrow’s Europa League quarter-final second leg at Rubin Kazan.
“The feeling from both is really good,” Benitez said.
Centre-back Cahill has had a knee operation after being ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro last month.
The 27-year-old has not played since suffering the injury in the Barclays Premier League defeat of West Ham on March 17 and is set to miss a further two weeks or more after the minor meniscus operation, but Benitez is optimistic a return is near.
“He had an operation,” Benitez said. “We did it very quickly on the Saturday of the Southampton game (March 30).”
Cole suffered a hamstring injury in the Easter Monday win over Manchester United, two days after the Southampton defeat in the Premier League.
Cole’s understudy Ryan Bertrand (illness) is doubtful for the trip to Moscow, when Chelsea will bid to confirm their progress to the semi-finals following last week’s 3-1 first-leg win.
If Bertrand joins Cole in missing out, Benitez could field Paulo Ferreira or young midfielder Nathan Ake at left-back at the Luzhniki Stadium.
There is good news over Demba Ba, the match-winner in the FA Cup quarter-final replay against United, who is expected to be fit for the holders’ semi-final with Manchester City on Sunday.
The 27-year-old striker was taken off at half-time of last weekend’s 2-1 Premier League win over Sunderland with an ankle injury after a first-half challenge by Craig Gardner.
Ba did not take part in full training yesterday and is cup-tied for Moscow, having represented Newcastle earlier in the competition, but should be fit to be considered for Wembley.
Benitez said: “Demba Ba did not train today (Tuesday), just as a precaution. ”It’s not too serious. He will not go to Moscow. Hopefully he can train here and be okay for the weekend.“
Long-term absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) is targeting a pre-season return.