John Obi Mikel is ready to use Michael Essien's absence through injury against Porto tonight to help finally seal a place in Chelsea's first-team.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti backed Mikel to play a key role in his Stamford Bridge revolution when he took over in July but many critics believe the Nigeria midfielder has failed to live up to the hype since his £16million move from Lyn Oslo in 2006.
Mikel, 22, signed a new long-term contract in the summer but a persistent ankle injury has harmed his progress this season. Essien has grabbed his chance to impress in the defensive midfield role but the Ghanian's absence with a knee complaint hands Mikel his chance to shine.
Mikel told the Evening Standard: 'I am happy with the way things have gone with my injury. I was meant to be out for two to three months, so it is good to be back early. My ankle is still not 100 per cent.
'With injuries like this you have to play with the pain. It takes between four to five months before it heals properly. It still hurts but the doctors said this is what you have to deal with and you have to play with it like that. This is what I'm doing right now.
'Sometimes it's frustrating but you just have to do it. I feel fit enough. I want to help the team keep their good form going. It is what we have to do. Our aim this season is to win every title. I want to help them do this.'
Raring to go: John Terry and Mikel (left) fight for the ball during a training session in the Dragao Stadium, Porto ahead of their Champions League Group D tie
Victory tonight will ensure they finish first in Champions League Group D but Porto have lost just once in Europe this term - 1-0 at Stamford Bridge - and are in the hunt for top spot themselves.
But Ancelotti insists Jesualdo Ferreira's side do not frighten the Premier League leaders. He said: 'Porto are a good team but while we respect them we have no fear. We want to put our personality and quality on the pitch. We want to arrive at first place in the group.'
Hiddink tug of war: Bayern ready to thwart Chelsea by replacing Louis van Gaal with Guus'Chelsea feel invincible' - John Terry believes Blues can win it all this seasonVilla tells Chelsea, United and Man City he will consider £35m Valencia exitCHELSEA FC