John Terry handed Chelsea another major fitness boost after boss Roberto Di Matteo revealed the defender would only be out for "approximately three weeks".
The European champions allayed fears their captain had suffered a serious knee injury in Sunday's Barclays Premier League draw with Liverpool when they confirmed on Monday he would be out for weeks rather than months.
And with Chelsea having further assessed Terry over the past four days, Di Matteo had even better news to report on Friday afternoon. "With JT, we're looking at approximately three weeks," he said. "Fortunately, it's not as bad as we first thought."
A three-week absence would rule Terry out of the rest of Chelsea's Champions League Group E campaign, starting with Tuesday's crucial trip to Juventus.
He would also miss vital league matches against West Brom, Manchester City, Fulham and West Ham.
He could return for the December 8 trip to Sunderland, the day before Chelsea are expected to travel to Japan for the Club World Cup.
The Blues have struggled badly in defence during Terry's domestic four-match ban and Sunday's game was only his second in more than a month.
Di Matteo added: "On the one hand, we're obviously pleased it's not as bad as first feared. On the other hand, we're disappointed we're losing him again after he just got back.
"It's a crucial period of the season for us, too. So that's a shame."
Frank Lampard is still sidelined with a calf injury which has kept him out for three and a half weeks. Ashley Cole could return from a hamstring problem in Saturday's game at West Brom.