Fernando Torres returns to the Chelsea squad for Saturday's visit of Cardiff City with José Mourinho confident the striker will resume the refreshingly "dynamic" form he had demonstrated before succumbing to knee ligament damage.
The Spain international has recovered sooner than anticipated after twisting his left knee early in the Champions League group victory against Steaua Bucharest. The medial ligament damage had been expected to leave the 29-year-old sidelined for up to six weeks but the Chelsea revealed the player had worked tirelessly, not least during the international window, to regain his fitness and first-team place.
"He has shown good dedication and work during this period, almost all day every day, so he's back," said Mourinho of a player who has scored only once in the Premier League this calendar year.
"He's been doing well for this season. Sure, he hasn't scored in the Premier League but, for some matches, he has not even been on the bench. I've left him out, so he has not benefited from consecutive matches. But he played very well against Bayern (in the Uefa Super Cup) and was very proactive against Tottenham Hotspur, very dynamic, the best people had seen for quite a long time. The fact he recovered so well from his injury is not just down to the medical department but also his feeling. He had the same feeling playing that game against Tottenham as everyone did watching him. He wants to be back. He knows important matches are coming up and he wants to play a part in them, hopefully scoring one or two goals. Strikers base their confidence on scoring."
While Torres' return to the side will be a boost, André Schürrle has a thigh problem and Ashley Cole is still undergoing treatment on the rib injury suffered at Norwich City that ruled him out of England's past two World Cup qualifiers and makes him a doubt for Tuesday's game with Schalke in Gelsenkirchen. Gary Cahill started each of the national side's games but, having not played in the league for a month, will return to the substitutes' bench, with John Terry and David Luiz considered the first-choice centre-halves.
"I look at that situation with some sadness," Mourinho said. "I don't like it. I don't enjoy leaving good players and good professionals on the bench but that's life. I trust Gary. I like him very much. I want to help him, not make his life difficult.
"I would never do something that could jeopardise his selection for the national team or create a difficult situation for him with the national team. He will play a lot with me and, in a couple of weeks, I may change my mind because of performances and he becomes my first option if I leave John or David out. But at this moment, they are playing well and giving stability.
"It's difficult keeping players happy in a World Cup season but, for me, the most important thing is Chelsea. The second thing is the players. The third thing is the national team. That has to be my ranking.
"But all three can work together. I have to give the players the chance to play, and I will never leave a player out for three, four or five games in a row. We can work in a way where Chelsea, the players and the national teams are defended and all happy. It's possible. Difficult but possible."