FERNANDO TORRES could be fit for the start of the Premier League season after Liverpool delivered a positive update on his latest injury yesterday.
Scans have indicated the Spain international suffered only a small adductor tear playing for his country in Sunday’s World Cup final.
The club are now hopeful the 26-year-old could be back in action in around three weeks, in time for their opening league fixture against Arsenal on August 15.
The club’s head of sports science and medicine Peter Brukner said: “The initial assessment was he had a mild adductor tear and the Spanish medial staff didn’t consider it to be too serious at the time.
“He had an MRI scan yesterday which confirmed a small tear. He should be able to resume training within two to three weeks and be able to play again within three to four.”
Torres suffered the injury late in extra-time of Spain’s triumph against Holland in Johannesburg, soon after coming on as a sub. Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool players who have already returned for pre-season work stepped up their preparations yesterday by flying out to a camp in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have been given a pre-season fitness boost after assistant coach Ray Wilkins confirmed that midfielders Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel should be ready for the start of the new campaign.
But Wilkins insisted the fitness of their World Cup stars would require careful handling to prevent them “hitting the wall” by the end of the year.
Essien and Mikel missed out on the World Cup finals with Ghana and Nigeria respectively because of knee injuries.
But the extra fitness work carried out during the summer break has put them both in contention for a return to action in time for the August 14 kick-off.
“There should be no problem whatsoever,” said Wilkins. “Mikel is slightly in advance of Michael Essien but they are both working very well indeed.
“They have been working double sessions for the last week and we will get them really firing before the season starts.”
Essien’s return is much anticipated by the Blues. The midfielder last played for Chelsea in December as complications following knee surgery ended his season and the chance to play in South Africa.
Wilkins is also ready to manage a fitness plan for those players who did take part in the tournament.
England trio Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry will return before the end of the month along with Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Deco, Salomon Kalou, and Branislav Ivanovic.
“Normally after a World Cup, you find with those players who come back from it, it is about December when they seem to hit a wall,” added Wilkins.
“It is very important we manage them in the correct manner. We have to get the players we have got here training now into the right fitness condition so that they are prepared to play, because we might not be able to use the guys coming back from the World Cup for the first couple of games.”
*Brazilian club side Fluminense will conclude a deal to sign Juliano Belletti after agreeing terms with the former Chelsea full-back. The 34-year-old is available on a free transfer after being released by Chelsea at the end of the season
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