Jose Mourinho was today hoping John Terry enjoys a speedy recovery after the Chelsea captain underwent surgery on his back injury in France yesterday.
The 26-year-old central defender has not featured in the Blues' last three Premiership matches, in which the champions have conceded six goals and fallen four points behind leaders Manchester United.
But it is understood the England captain could be available in around four weeks following his operation.
A club statement read: 'Chelsea Football Club can confirm that today club captain John Terry underwent successful surgery following his back injury.
'The operation took place in France following consultation between the Chelsea medical department and a leading neurosurgical specialist.
'The operation to remove a sequestrated lumbar intervertebral disc was successful, and everyone at the club wishes John a speedy and full recovery.'
Terry's quick return would be welcome news for manager Mourinho, who has made no secret of his desire to get the defender back in action as soon as possible, while England play their first international of 2007 - against Spain at Old Trafford - on February 7.
Terry is likely to remain out for around a month, according to independent medical expert Phil Sheard - who believes Chelsea probably chose surgery for their lynchpin defender merely to speed his recovery.
'A couple of weeks is the most optimistic. Realistically you are looking at four to six weeks before he will be back playing football,' the consultant orthopaedic spinal surgeon told Sky Sports News.
'In most cases, these will get better by themselves. But we quite frequently do operations so that we can get people back to work quickly - and I think that is what has happened here.'
In the continued absence of their centre-half and goalkeeper Petr Cech, the Blues have looked somewhat shaky in defence. Chelsea have now let in 15 goals - only seven fewer than they did over the whole of the last Premiership season.
Having sold both William Gallas and Robert Huth, Mourinho admits the continued absence of the England captain has left him short of options in the heart of the defence.
The Chelsea manager has even considered asking 19-goal striker Didier Drogba to step into the role on an emergency basis.
The 28-year-old said: 'I do not like to play at centre-back - but I do it for the team because sometimes we have difficult moments in the game.'
Drogba accepts Chelsea cannot continue to give teams the 'belief' they can get the better of the Premiership champions.
'It is something we have to think about,' he said.
'We cannot give the other teams the belief that they can score, that they can win.
'Last season, and also two years ago, we were very strong when we scored one goal and the other teams could not think about coming back into the game.'
Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce has, meanwhile, rejected reports Chelsea have lined up an £18million bid for their England defender Micah Richards.