Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has had a knee operation, Rafael Benitez has revealed, but the interim manager is confident of a swift return.
The 27-year-old withdrew from England duty ahead of the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro last month with the problem and required surgery. Cahill 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, and he said: "He had an operation. We did it very quickly on the Saturday of the Southampton game (March 30)."
Cahill and his fellow England defender Ashley Cole (hamstring) are stepping up their recoveries, but both are likely to miss crucial matches this season, including Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg at Rubin Kazan.
"The feeling from both is really good," Benitez said.
Cole suffered a hamstring injury in the Easter Monday victory 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 on Tuesday and is cup-tied on Thursday, having represented Newcastle earlier in the competition, but should be fit to be considered for Wembley.
Benitez said: "Demba Ba did not train today, 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."