Cech and Terry due back by middle of the month

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The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, revealed for the first time last night that goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to make his recovery to first-team action from a skull fracture in the Premiership match at Liverpool on 20 January.

The Czech goalkeeper was controversially injured by Reading winger Stephen Hunt on 14 October and his absence has been sighted by Mourinho as a major factor in Chelsea's problems.

Mourinho said: "I have Robben and Petr Cech back for the game after Wigan [on 13 January]. I look forward to that."

Mourinho also expects his side's title bid to be boosted by the return of captain John Terry for the Wigan game in 10 days' time. The manager has earmarked the visit of Paul Jewell's men for Terry's return and is confident the pendulum is about to swing in his team's favour.

Having seen Terry take part in the pre-match warm-up at Villa Park last night, and confirming that his captain will test his back in a reserve match behind closed doors this week, Mourinho said: "I think this will be Terry's last game in the Premiership that he misses. For the next one against Wigan he is back."