Frank Lampard says Christian Pulisic remains on course to return for Chelsea midway through next month.
Reports on Friday suggested that an adductor injury suffered by Pulisic is not as serious as initially thought and that he could be back in a couple of weeks.
Blues boss Frank Lampard says that is not the case and that the American is still likely to be out until after the break in Premier League fixtures in early February.
And by that time Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be close to training with the first team again, having recently made significant progress in his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Speaking about Pulisic, Lampard said: “Hopefully he’ll be back at the other end of that break, which comes in line with how we expected him to be.”
Meanwhile, Loftus-Cheek is now training with the club’s academy players with a view to rejoining the first team for training in the coming weeks.
The England midfielder has endured setbacks in his battle to return from the injury he suffered last season but the news is now much more positive.
Lampard explained: “He’s actually training now with the Under-16s. He’ll train with the Under-18s and progress to the Under-23s in a pretty short space of time.
“The sooner he can be back training with us the better, but obviously we train at a real intensity.
“But there’s a different look on Ruben’s face – more smiley and happy, which I absolutely understand. It’s been tough for him.
“The good thing is that he’s not one that walks around with his head down. But it (being injured) is a lonely place.
“He’s integrating more towards us now, which is great news for all of us because we’ve missed a hugely influential player for us.
“If we can be training with us after the break – it might still take some competitive games because of the nature of the injury – but he might not be far away.”