John Terry could travel to the Club World Cup before making his Chelsea comeback, interim manager Rafael Benitez said Friday.
Benitez said Terry was pushing himself to return from the knee injury that has sidelined him for almost three weeks.
"He's pushing -- 'I want to be there, I want to be involved' -- but still he will need some time," Benitez said. "It's a knee, not just a muscle. You have to see the reaction when you turn. You cannot put him in a position where he could get injured again."
But the Spaniard was not prepared to risk the defender in Saturday's Premier League game at West Ham or Wednesday's Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland.
Chelsea has one more match after that, next weekend's trip to Sunderland, before flying to Japan for its bid to be crowned world champions.
Asked if Terry could travel without having returned, Benitez said: "Yeah, it could be. It's a question of confidence. When you forget you have that problem in your knee is when you are ready."
Terry has seen just 130 minutes of first-team football since the beginning of October because of a combination of his racism ban and injury.
Benitez has been impressed by the 31-year-old's mentality since his own appointment as Chelsea boss.
"Early this morning, he was in front of me walking on to the pitch and he didn't know I was following him," Benitez said. "Three young players were coming along and the way he approached them was quite positive."
Frank Lampard could also travel to the Club World Cup before returning from the calf problem that has ruled him out for more than a month.
Benitez said Chelsea had missed its captain and vice-captain, whose absence coincided with the alarming slump that saw Roberto Di Matteo sacked as manager.
"You have to analyze what has been happening in the last month, but you can see these players with this character and leadership can be helpful when things are wrong," Benitez said.