LONDON, July 14 – Chelsea midfielders Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel are on course to be fit for the start of the new Premier League season.
Ghana star Essien and Nigeria international Mikel both missed the World Cup due to knee injuries.
Essien hasn’t played for Chelsea since being injured at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, while Mikel underwent knee surgery towards the end of the season.
But the pair have now recovered sufficiently to take part in pre-season training with the English champions and Blues assistant manager Ray Wilkins is confident they will be ready for Chelsea’s opening league game against West Bromwich Albion on August 14.
"John Obi is slightly in advance of Michael Essien but they are both working very well indeed," Wilkins told Chelsea’s website.
"They have been working double sessions for the last week and we will get them really firing before the season starts."
Although Blues captain John Terry was seen joining in training this week, Wilkins is well aware that many of Chelsea’s stars are likely to be drained following their efforts at the World Cup.
Wilkins said boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen to ensure the likes of Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda and Ricardo Carvalho don’t suffer from burn-out later in the season.
"Normally after a World Cup you find those players who come back from it, it is about December when they seem to hit a wall," Wilkins said.
"It is very important we manage them in the correct manner and we get them to a level where they won’t be as fit as we want them to be, but as they creep into the new year their fitness will come back.
"The players we have got here now, we have to get them into the right fitness condition so that they are prepared to play, because we might not be able to use the guys coming back from the World Cup for the first couple of games."