Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has admitted Didier Drogba is unlikely to feature for his side until the very end of August.
The 30-year-old has spent the summer recuperating from a knee injury which now looks certain to rule him out of the Blues' opening Barclays Premier League games against Portsmouth, on August 17, and Wigan a week later.
Scolari has pencilled in the London derby against big-spending Tottenham on August 31 for a possible return but admits he will not rush the Ivory Coast star back into action.
'Didier will not play in our first game against Portsmouth and will probably miss the second against Wigan. If there are no more problems he should be ready for the game after that,' said Scolari, who will have to rely on Nicolas Anelka as his only recognised frontman for the first two games of the season as Salomon Kalou is away at the Olympics.
'But when you have a knee injury, you just never know.
'I have been getting a progress report from the doctor every day.
'He's getting better and is working with a fitness coach back at the training ground. I hope he will be ready to start training next week. But he will not play until he is in good condition.'