Chelsea are ready to take a chance on bringing Frank Lampard back for Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur after more than three months out as they try to turn around a run of only two points from six Premier League games.
The 32-year-old, who did not travel to Marseille for the Champions League game, has been impressive in training all week and the club are now confident that he is over the worst injury run of his career.
He last played against Stoke City on August 28 and since then has suffered two subsequent injuries in his rehabilitation. Lampard has never been as missed by Chelsea as he has during their recent poor run which began with the defeat to Liverpool on November 7 and has been followed with defeats to Sunderland and Birmingham City.
A win against Spurs would be crucial to putting them back on track having slipped to third place behind Arsenal and Manchester United — who they play over the next two games.
Lampard required a hernia operation in August and was on course to recover from the keyhole procedure within a couple of weeks. However, following surgery he tore a tendon off the bone an injury which usually requires a further 12-week break and there has been one further set back since then.
He has said that he is not prepared to risk coming back sooner than necessary but after a week of training there is a strong case for putting him into the team to start against Spurs. In an interview last month, Lampard said that he was ready to make a quick comeback once he was clear of the injury.
He said: “I'm probably fitter right now than I was in the first game of the season against West Brom — that's because of all the work I have been doing behind the scenes.”
Chelsea are also without Jose Bosingwa for Sunday's game and the long-term injured Alex da Costa and Yossi Benayoun.
Ancelotti did not take Nicolas Anelka or Ashley Cole to France this week in order to rest them. John Terry was substituted with an ankle injury but should be fit for the Spurs. Yuri Zhirkov is another doubt for the game. “It's not getting any easier because we have Tottenham next,” said Didier Drogba. “But not a lot of people expected us to lose to Marseille or expected Chelsea to have a difficult moment. Maybe everyone will expect us to lose on Sunday, but it could be different.
“I see Tottenham as genuine title rivals now. They are having a good season and there is no reason why they can't challenge.”