Cole appeared to have been ruled out for a fortnight following scans on the strain that forced him off during the second half of last weekend's 1-0 win at Bolton.
The Reds' head of sports medicine and sports science Dr Peter Brukner had said: "The scan confirmed Joe has sustained a hamstring strain. It is not a serious injury but still means he is likely to be out for two weeks."
However, Liverpool boss Hodgson has not yet discounted the 28-year-old for the Premier League clash with the champions at Anfield.
Hodgson told the club's website: "With Cole, it's not as bad as feared. It shouldn't keep him out for that long.
"I would say it's a week to 10-day injury. The scan was positive in that it's a very minor tear he has, but you can't really put a definite date on how long that tear is going to take to repair. But the physical people are very optimistic.
"It's a question of how quickly he can recover and what progress he can make.
"At the moment, he's not even ruled out for the Chelsea game but we'll see how he goes later in the week."
England international Cole is trying to establish himself at Liverpool after leaving Stamford Bridge on a free transfer in the summer.
The injury will definitely keep him out of Thursday's Europa League group match against Napoli.
Full-back Glen Johnson could feature against the Italians at Anfield after four games out with a thigh injury.
Johnson trained with the team on Tuesday but in-form fellow defender Sotirios Krygiakos was withdrawn as a precaution.
Hodgson said: "Kyrgiakos is feeling his groin slightly.
"As a matter of caution, we took him out of today's training session half way through to give him a bit of a rest."
Forward Dirk Kuyt continues to make good progress in his recovery from an ankle injury and could come into contention to face Chelsea.
The Dutchman was injured on international duty last month but the problem has not proved as bad as first thought.
"For the weekend he's a possibility if all goes well with the training sessions on Friday and Saturday," Hodgson said.
The news is not so positive for Daniel Agger, who looks set to remain on the sidelines for some time. The Dane has been out since September 25.
Hodgson said: "It's a question of time and there's not so much more the physios and medical staff can do. We have to be patient."