By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Alexandre Pato is close to being fit for selection after being placed on a strict exercise regime to lose weight.
A Chelsea source has told Football Insider that the Brazilian arrived at the club in the final week of the transfer window “overweight” and “out of shape”.
Pato, who signed from Corinthians on loan until the end of the season, had not played since the end of November and, following the Brazil close season, was immediately placed by the champions on a pre-season style regime to shed the excess pounds.
“There was no way Pato was ready to play first-team football, he was nowhere near fit enough” the Chelsea source told Football Insider. “He was overweight and out of shape.
“He was more than 10 pounds overweight and, for a striker where the position is about pace, short bursts of acceleration and intensity, that was far too much.”
Pato has spent the last month working on his fitness under the guidance of the Chelsea fitness coaches away from the main group.
Manager Guus Hiddink has not named the 26-year-old in the matchday squad for the six games Chelsea have played since his arrival but is hopeful of being able to call upon him for this weekend’s Premier League trip to Southampton.
“I’m happy with his development,” Hiddink said, speaking at his media briefing last Friday. “He played his last game on the 28 November. Then they were on holiday ahead of the new season. So he’s in pre-season now.
“You need at least four to five weeks in pre-season to get him top fit. He’s not yet fully game fit, but he’s in the third week of preparations.
“I hope, after this weekend, he’ll be in shape where we can go with him.”