Jose Mourinho believes Ashley Cole will earn a contract extension at Chelsea despite the England left-back no longer being guaranteed a first-team place.
Cole, 33 this month, will on Wednesday make his first Chelsea appearance since the loss at Newcastle on November 2 in the Champions League Group E clash with Steaua Bucharest and is out of contract at the end of this season.
The former Arsenal defender struggled with a rib injury and then saw Spain right-back Cesar Azpilicueta preferred on his 'wrong' flank, leading to speculation over his future.
Yet Blues boss Mourinho believes Cole's stock at Chelsea, who he joined in August 2006, remains high.
"Naturally he will get his contract because he's a valuable player for us," Mourinho said.
"Even if you are not playing every game and you are not a first-choice player, like he was always, I don't think sometimes it means that you are not well, you are not in well conditions, you are not deserving a new contract.
"I feel he's fine. And I think tomorrow he's going to show that he's fine. He starts tomorrow."
Mourinho has never doubted Cole's professionalism, but insists the England centurion will have to be patient with the Blues.
"Naturally with the evolution of the season, he will play in matches," Mourinho said.
"Can he recover or not 100 per cent his position? I don't know. But he will always play and he will always be a good player.
"It's easy to feel that he's not happy, that he's not comfortable with a situation, but the way he behaves, the way he trains (is) super professional, as always.
"As always (he's a) fantastic trainer, fantastic professional. When he's on the bench behind me, I can feel that he's there to win, even if he's not on the pitch."