Chelsea have been boosted by the news that Ashley Cole made a successful return from knee ligament damage for the club's reserve team on Wednesday night.
Cole has been sidelined since jarring his knee in the 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge on January 31.
The England full-back, who tweaked his medial knee ligament on a much-criticised pitch that has since been relaid, played an hour of a second-string match against Reading without suffering a reaction.
Reserve team manager Brendan Rodgers described the left-back's showing as "fantastic."
The news of Cole's return comes as a welcome boost for manager Jose Mourinho after the Blues lost John Terry to an ankle injury in Wednesday's 1-1 Champions League stalemate with FC Porto.
Cole is unlikely to return in time for Sunday's Carling Cup showdown with Arsenal, while Terry has already been ruled out of the Millennium Stadium showpiece as he awaits scans on his injured ankle.