Terry struggles with persistent bruised ribs

John Terry admits he is still being troubled by a rib injury as England prepare for their Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro next week.

The Chelsea captain missed the first two qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland last month with a hamstring problem. But he also bruised his ribs during Chelsea's win over West Ham United last month and the 29-year-old has revealed he is still in a lot of discomfort.

"I take elbows in the ribs in a lot of games but it is one of them where I have a bit of bruising and the masseurs can't get into it because it is too sore," Terry said. "I had an X-ray and a scan and thankfully it came back all clear. It is a case of getting on with it but sneezing and coughing is really painful."

Chelsea have confirmed that defender Alex will be out of action for up to three weeks with a thigh injury he sustained in the later stages of their 2-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday. Alex has been ruled out of Brazil's friendly international matches against Iran tomorrow and Ukraine on Monday.

The central defender is almost certain he will miss the trip to Aston Villa after the international break and the Champions League tie with Spartak Moscow.

Michael Essien has confirmed that his absence from the Ghana team is only temporary. The 27-year-old missed the World Cup finals because of a knee problem and did not play a part in Ghana's opening African Nations Cup qualifier in Swaziland last month.

That was the result of an agreement with coach Milovan Rajevac, who has since departed. "I spoke to the manager and he told me was going to give me a break to get my fitness back on track," Essien said. "It is unfortunate that he left, and we shall see who comes in, but I will go back."

Essien was outstanding in Chelsea's win over Arsenal on Sunday but the midfielder believes he needs to work on scoring more goals ahead of their trip to Villa. "My passing is getting better, what I need to work on is my goal scoring," he said. "When you have a chance you have to be calm."