Essien boost for Chelsea as injured midfielder makes return with reserves
Michael Essien's injury-blighted Chelsea career is on-track to restart with a game for the reserves against West Bromwich on Monday.
Essien hasn't made a single appearance for the first-team this season and is missing the Africa Cup of Nations to continue his rehabilitation after suffering a serious knee injury in pre-season training.
The debilitating injury was the third time Essien, 29, has been sidelined with a serious knee problem.
Battling back: Essien is set for a return to the reserves next month
Essien returned to light training last month and Chelsea pencilled in the clash with Manchester United in early February as a possible comeback.
And his inclusion in the reserve team for the clash at the Cobham training ground would suggest he is on course to meet that target in the coming weeks.
His return would provide a huge boost for Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas who is struggling to maintain Chelsea's position as title contenders.
The west London club – Double winners as recently as 2010 – currently occupy fourth place in the Barclays Premier League – and are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Not Ghana go: Essien isn't going to appear at the Africa Cup of Nations