Andre Villas-Boas has revealed that Michael Essien is making good progress in his recovery from knee surgery and could be back in action by the end of December.
The Chelsea midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at the start of pre-season training and it was initially feared that he could be sidelined for most of the 2011/12 campaign.
However, his rehabilitation at Cobham has been going smoothly and it now looks as though he could return to give the Blues a boost before the turn of the year.
Villas-Boas also had positive news on Didier Drogba, who missed the trip to Genk in midweek to have a metal plate removed from his arm following an operation in 2010.
Chelsea felt it was the best time for Drogba to undergo the procedure as he is currently serving a domestic suspension, and Villas-Boas remains confident he will be fit to come back after the international break.
Hilario will return to contention at around the same time, while John Obi Mikel will be available for Saturday's clash with Blackburn after being rested for the trip to Genk.
"Obi has returned to training straight away after we returned from Genk and will be fit for selection," Villas-Boas told the club's official website.
"Hilario has done an almost full session today but we still think [he will return] only after the international break.
"Didier will start training as we enter the second week of the international break and we hope he'll be available for the Liverpool game.
"Essien is making good progress and we're thinking end of December."