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By ESPN Staff

Boulahrouz delays surgery at short staffed Blues

Chelsea defender Khalid Boulahrouz is to delay surgery on his damaged shoulder until the end of the season.

Boulahrouz dislocated his shoulder just before half-time in Chelsea's 4-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory over Norwich at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.

It was the defender's first start since recovering from a knee ligament strain and he was expected to undergo an operation as a result.

But Boulahrouz has now set this sights on returning within a month and will delay surgery unless the shoulder weakens further.

England left-back Ashley Cole is almost ready to return to first-team action after hurting his knee against Blackburn earlier this month.

The defender is back in full training and although he did not travel to Porto with the rest of the squad, he is on the brink of a return.

Ashley and Joe Cole, along with Boulahrouz, were the only players left behind by Chelsea as they travelled to Oporto for Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Jose Mourinho's former club.

Germany captain Michael Ballack is expected to play after recovering from the hamstring problem he collected against Switzerland in a friendly international a fortnight ago.