Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed to the club’s official website that defender Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to be back in training next week.
The Spanish international had to be substituted after 37 minutes during the Blues’ 2-0 victory over Newcastle United last weekend after picking up a groin injury.
Initial prognosis suggested that he would be out of action for at least two weeks with minor muscle strain, causing Mourinho a slight headache problem for the ensuing fixtures.
However, speaking to Chelsea's official website, the Portuguese coach revealed that Azpilicueta’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared, and that he expects him to make a swift return next week.
“Azpilicueta is out but it is less than we thought it would be,” he explained. “He was intelligent to understand a big injury was coming [against Newcastle] and he stopped. I think next week he will train with the team.”
Azpilicueta has been one of Mourinho’s most-used players this season, despite the fact the club signed Brazilian left-back Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid in the summer transfer window.
The 25-year-old has started 17 Premier League matches, averaging an impressive 3.1 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, his side’s second highest behind Nemanja Matic.
Depending on Luis’s performances over the coming week, Azpilicueta could be in line for a return to the first-team for the League Cup second-leg tie against Liverpool on the January 27.