Chelsea captain John Terry has returned to training but will miss his side’s clash against Aston Villa, manager Rafael Benitez said on Friday.
The 32-year-old sustained a knee injury against Liverpool in November and has been out of action since.
Despite returning to training this week, Terry will not be fit enough for Sunday’s clash against Villa at Stamford Bridge.
The former England international is yet to feature under Benitez, but the Spaniard is aware of Terry’s importance to his Chelsea side.
“John Terry is training, doing some running, but he’s not available yet,” Benitez told reporters.
“We cannot predict how long it will take.
“Terry is the captain because he is a leader. He can help and push when necessary. All the players are important, but John’s the captain and on the pitch he can do well because of his character.”
Benitez said Liverpool target Daniel Sturridge is close to a return, but refused to comment on speculation linking him with a move to Anfield.
“Daniel Sturridge is also back in training, he trained very well this morning,” Benitez said.
Chelsea, who finished as runners-up at the Club World Cup, return to English Premier League action against an Aston Villa side high on confidence.
Benitez is wary of Villa, pinpointing the threat of Christian Benteke after the Belgian striker scored twice and set one up in their 3-1 win over Liverpool.
“Aston Villa are unbeaten in five games, they are comfortable and have good options on the counter-attack,” Benitez said.
“Christian Benteke is a good player, strong in the air and good with the ball.”