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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Ballack back from thigh strain in days - Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is expected to recover from his thigh strain in 'days rather than weeks' after picking up the injury during international duty.

The 30-year-old was injured during Germany's clash against Switzerland last week but a timescale of recovery has only just been established.

'It's not a major injury, it's a thigh strain which will recover in days rather than weeks,' said club doctor Bryan English, who expects Ballack to return in the next week.

Meanwhile, England international Joe Cole has stepped up his rehabilitation on his injured foot which has disrupted his season, in which he has only featured 11 times for the Premiership champions.

'He's got the protective boot off and is now able to start weight bearing exercises,' said English. 'He will continue to use his crutches, but less and less.'

Full-back Ashley Cole is expected to return before the end of the season but has been in a knee brace following the injury sustained against Blackburn.

'That will come off at the end of this week and then he will start his first stage of rehabilitation,' added English on Chelsea's website.

The positive news on returning players started at the weekend when John Terry played 90 minutes against Middlesbrough.

Terry has admitted his frustration at being sidelined with a back problem that then affected his calf.

However, the 26-year-old was grateful for being allowed to be part of the first-team squad despite not being able to play.

He told Chelsea TV: 'Sometimes I was a little bit down and that did me the world of good.'