Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has offered a promising update on the fitness of star midfielder N'Golo Kante going into to the club's opening fixture of the 2019/20 Premier League season against Manchester United.
Kantewas forced to leave the Blues' pre-season tour to undergo specialist treatment on the knee injury he has been suffering with since the league clash with Watford back in May, though it didn't stop him from starting the victorious Europa League final at the end of that month.
Although Kante is yet to feature under the club's record goalscorer, Lampard didn't rule out the possibility of the Frenchman figuring in the fixture against the Red Devils in less than two weeks' time.
Speaking on whether he will be returning to full training next week, as quoted by football.london, Lampard declared: "Yeah I am hopeful. He is training. He has dipped into training with us in the last couple of days.
"There is a lot more that he needs to do physically, off without us that he can do without any contact which has been good. But the signs are good in the last three days that we have been back.
"It was certainly the right decision for him to come back here and get the treatment that he had. I expect him to be training through the week with us to the point that next week he should be fully training."
As to whether he could return in time to start against United, Lampard admitted: "That one I will have to assess next week, and see how it is."
Promisingly, in terms of pure fitness, the Chelsea gaffer was hopeful, though he did remain coy given the length of the season ahead: "A natural base of fitness yes, but there are also 50 to 60 odd games coming this season so I have to make sure I make the right call on that because the players here have been training very hard.
"So if he is training at the start of next week then it is purely for me and the staff to assess where he is at. He is a top class player, so however much you want him in, at the same time you have to make sure he is as fit as he can be when he comes back."