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Chelsea star Cole closes on first team return

Chelsea may have had a 24 hours to forget but the club can at least reflect on Friday's good news that long-term injury victims Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira successfully completed a training ground match.

England midfielder Cole has not played since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in an FA Cup tie against Southend United in January while Portuguese defender Ferreira's last appearance came in February as he too has been contending with a knee problem.

However, both players took a key step on their return to fitness when successfully playing in a 60-minute practice game at the club's Cobham training facility. It is not the first minor run-out that Cole has had in recent weeks but will be pleasing all the same for manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The midfielder, who is reportedly set for a new contract at Chelsea, is remaining cautious over his chances of returning to the first team having suffered a small setback to his recovery in pre-season.

"It's nice to be playing again," Cole told the club's official website. "But I am under no illusions and this doesn't mean I am declaring myself fit.

"I am going to take every day as it comes and this game was part of the rehab. I am just trying to keep the knee strong and keep going forward."

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