Cole could return by end of month as fears recede

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The Independent Online

Chelsea have been boosted by news that Joe Cole's injury is not as serious as first thought and he could be back in action by the end of the month. The England midfielder was taken to hospital for scans on his right knee yesterday after twisting it badly in the friendly against MLS All-Stars in Chicago on Saturday.

Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho, feared the injury was serious, but doctors say there is no serious ligament damage and Cole could be back in action within three to four weeks. That is a major relief to Chelsea because Cole has become a key player and had been pencilled in to play alongside Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard in Mourinho's new 4-1-3-2 formation.

The was further good news for the club, too, when the wayward defender William Gallas turned up for the official team photograph at Stamford Bridge yesterday, and a club spokesman confirmed that the Frenchman, who had his lucky No 13 shirt taken away after missing a pre-season training camp in America, has been given squad No 3 instead. Gallas, who was fined for extending his holiday without permission, has been linked with Arsenal after his agent claimed he wanted to leave. But he took part in Chelsea's adidas-sponsored "Blue Day Out" at Stamford Bridge where 5,000 fans who had bought lottery tickets won the right to be photographed with the team.

It is not certain whether Gallas, who has one year remaining on his contract, will continue talks about a new four-year deal, but the club are confident he will not be moving across London to Arsenal.

Chelsea have agreed to loan Hernan Crespo to Internazionale for two years. Crespo has never settled and has always wanted to return to Italy. Chelsea have set up a two-year loan deal with Inter, with an option to buy him after a year and an option for him to return to London instead if he is needed.

Mourinho must now decide whether to buy a replacement for Crespo, with Inter's Obafemi Martins already linked with the club.

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