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Mikel boost for Blues

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07 Feb 2012 15:46:46

Mikel boost for Blues

Chelsea enjoyed a fitness boost ahead of their Barclays Premier League game at Everton when John Obi Mikel returned to full training after seven weeks on the sidelines.

The Nigeria international has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in December's 1-1 draw at Tottenham, but was back with the rest of the squad ahead of Saturday's trip to Goodison Park.

Fellow midfielder Frank Lampard is on course to make his return this weekend after missing the last three matches with a calf problem. That leaves John Terry and Ramires (both knee) as Chelsea's only injured players, with manager Andre Villas-Boas hoping both will be available for the following weekend's FA Cup clash with Birmingham.

That game is immediately followed by the Champions League last-16, first leg at Napoli and Villas-Boas knows a good result at Everton could be crucial for Chelsea's hopes in the two cup competitions.

The Blues boss acknowledged it was important to "get the team back to its strong belief and go on to try to make an impact on those trophies" after his side squandered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Manchester United on Sunday.

He added: "We set out with a team that we believe in for this season and we will continue to pursue the trophies that we have in our hands and try to win them. One of them is the FA Cup and the other is the Champions League. We are still in with a chance and we will continue to pursue those objectives so we are fully focused on them."

The Birmingham game could also see the return of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou from African Nations Cup duty. The Ivory Coast have reached the semi-finals of the competition, which are being played on Wednesday, meaning they will be involved in either Sunday's final or Saturday's third-placed play-off.

It also means Fernando Torres is almost certain to keep his place against Everton, but with Drogba in fine goalscoring form out in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, it could be the goal-shy Spaniard's last start for a while if his scoreless run extends to 19 games this weekend.

Former Chelsea boss Ruud Gullit believes Villas-Boas would be justified in dropping Torres, saying: "Drogba, when he plays, he's still playing really, really well.

"It's a difficult situation also for the rest of the players because I think that they all like Torres, they all want him to score. But if he doesn't, what does it do to the result? What does it do to the morale of the rest of the players?"


PA

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