John Terry's operation yesterday to repair a fractured cheekbone was successful and the Chelsea captain has indicated his readiness to play against Valencia in the crucial Champions League game on Wednesday.
Surgeons originally believed Terry would need a metal plate fitted in his face, but the damage was not sufficiently serious to require one. The 26-year-old should be fit for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers this month, although that is not a pressing concern for Chelsea.
Terry will possibly wear a protective mask, similar to the one Paul Gascoigne wore in 1993, to protect the fracture. With an already lengthy injury list, the new Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, cannot afford to be without his captain at the Mestalla stadium on Wednesday.
Terry was injured in the early stages of a desperate goalless draw at home to Fulham on Saturday and was told to come off at half-time. His cheekbone was fractured in a challenge with the American striker Clint Dempsey, who clearly led with his elbow, although there did not appear to be any malicious intent. Chelsea believe otherwise and it is understood that they will lobby the Football Association to review the incident.
Chelsea also face uncertainty over their assistant manager, Steve Clarke, who is understood to have made it known that he is considering his future. It is not clear what has prompted Clarke's doubts and it does not appear that he has a job to go to, though there is an agreement that Chelsea would not stand in his way if he was offered a manager's job elsewhere.
However, should Clarke leave it would reflect poorly on the new regime, which was promoted by the board two weeks ago as having the former Chelsea right-back there for continuity. Described as "Mr Chelsea personified" by the chairman, Bruce Buck, in his programme notes for Saturday's game, Clarke, 44, would be a symbolic loss.
The changes are likely to come after Sunday's game against Bolton, when the international break will give Grant a chance to pick his backroom staff to replace the four who left with former manager Jose Mourinho last month. Buck said that in Clarke "there is no better man to provide continuity, guidance and spirit".
Shaun Wright-Phillips is out of the Valencia game, but Frank Lampard believes that he will be fit, having been out with a torn thigh muscle.
Terry's England team-mate Michael Owen suggested yesterday that he could be fit to play against Estonia and Russia this month. The Newcastle striker had a double hernia operation and surgery to repair a torn abductor muscle in his stomach in Munich last week. "I shall cling to the hope I can play for England, but people must accept that Newcastle have to come first at the moment," he said.