Chelsea have been given a huge injury boost ahead of the weekend’s Premier League clash with Liverpool after welcoming N’Golo Kante back to training on Thursday.
The World Cup-winning midfielder hasn’t played since the 1-1 draw with former club Leicester over a month ago, while he also struggled with injury during pre-season and towards the end of last season.
Kante, who was named 2016/17 PFA, FWA and Premier League Player of Year, has been sorely missed by Chelsea in the opening weeks of the season. Even when he has been on the pitch, he has been lacking full fitness and has not been at his usual sharp best.
Whether he is able to start against league leaders Liverpool remains to be seen, but simply his presence back with the rest of the group will give fans reason to feel optimistic.
Chelsea have already been boosted by the news that Mason Mount is not as seriously hurt as was first feared after being on the receiving end of a dangerous challenge from former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin during the Champions League defeat to Valencia.
Fresh from signing his new long-term contract, the game might come a little too soon for teenage starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi as he gradually builds up his fitness after recovering from a five-month absence, while centre-back Antonio Rudiger has suffered a minor groin setback.
Chelsea have won two of their last three Premier League games after a difficult start to the season, but the Blues will have to be more defensively resilient to come away with anything other than a defeat when Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Only Norwich (12) have conceded more than goals than Chelsea (11) in the opening five games of the new league campaign, while Liverpool (15) are the second highest scorers.
Finding the net hasn’t actually been a problem for Chelsea, though. Frank Lampard’s team have 11 of their own, with home-grown striker Tammy Abraham alone scoring seven of them. In fact, all 11 Chelsea goals have been scored by English players aged 21 or younger.