Samuel Eto’o gave Jose Mourinho a fitness boost ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
Eto’o, who has been out for two weeks with a hamstring injury, was fit enough to train on Monday morning and offer a glimmer of hope.
He trotted out onto the pitch at Chelsea’s training base in Surrey with the rest of the squad but trained separately with assistant first-team coach Rui Faria.
Eto’o focused on jogging and stretching as his team-mates embarked on a more energetic session but the mere fact he was able to pull on his boots and train will lift Mourinho.
Chelsea trail 3-1 at the half-way stage of the tie and need goals at Stamford Bridge. A 2-0 win will be enough to take the Londoners into the last four on the away-goals ruling, but PSG have such a wealth of attacking talent that it will not be easy to keep them out, even though captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured.
Eto’o, 33, has won the European Cup three times – twice with Barcelona and once with Mourinho at Inter Milan – and has been the most potent of Chelsea’s three recognised centre-forwards this season.
Team game: Chelsea are trailing PSG 2-0 in their Champions League last-eight clash
He has scored 11 goals, all of them at Stamford Bridge, since signing on a free transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala and was looking especially sharp in front of goal when he twanged a hamstring during the 6-0 win against Arsenal, last month.
Mourinho will give Eto’o every chance to prove his fitness before kick-off, even if he is unable to play for 90 minutes.
If he is forced to rule out the Cameroonian, he is expected to reluctantly turn to Fernando Torres to lead the line.
Torres was left on the bench in the first leg, last week, when the Chelsea boss complained about his lack of attacking options and preferred to start with winger Andre Schurrle up front. The other option is Demba Ba, who has rarely started this season and is clearly not rated by Mourinho.
Mourinho also has complications in midfield, where Ramires is suspended and Nemanja Matic is ineligible. Mohamed Salah is also ineligible.
Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel, who has not played for the first team since damaging cruciate ligaments in September, is also back in training and could be a contender to return to the squad. He has played three times for the U21s since his injury.
Nathan Ake and Tomas Kalas, unused substitutes in Paris last week, also trained with the first team today.
By Matt Barlow