Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is hoping to have midfielder Frank Lampard and captain John Terry back in action next week to reinvigorate their title bid.
Defender Terry has missed the last three games with a nerve problem in his leg, while Lampard has not played since August because of a groin injury.
But both are due to resume training this week, with Terry the more likely to face Everton next Saturday.
“Next week will be an important one for Terry and Lampard,” said Ancelotti. “We have a week to control their condition and I hope both, maybe more Terry than Lampard, will be able to play against Everton.
“They are very important players, not just technically, but because they have personality and character, and at the moment, we need to have that kind of player at our disposal.”
In their continued absence, Chelsea could only draw 1-1 at Newcastle on Sunday, meaning they failed to reclaim top spot in the Premier League and now lie second, two points behind leaders Manchester United.
The Blues have taken only four points from the last 15 available to them in the league.
Despite retaining the best defensive record in the division, with eight clean sheets to their name, they have not looked as solid in recent matches, conceding three at home to Sunderland on 14 November and gifting Newcastle their opening goal on Sunday when Alex’s back-pass beat keeper Petr Cech and gave Andy Carroll a simple finish.
Terry’s return will be a timely boost for Ancelotti’s side, who have been without their influential skipper since the 1-0 win over Fulham on 10 November – their only victory in their last five league matches.
Equally, the return of Terry’s England colleague Lampard – who has not played since a 2-0 win over Stoke on 28 August – will strengthen the spine of the side.