It's been a long time since young Kurt Zouma last took to the pitch in a Chelsea shirt. He ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at the start of February in a match against Manchester United, and has spent the eight and a half months since undergoing surgery and the extensive rehab associated with such injuries.
Recovering in less than nine months is actually quite impressive -- ACL issues can drag on for years -- but it's important to continue to bring him along slowly. While he had been back in training for a couple weeks now, today, he made his competitive return to the pitch as the Chelsea U23/Reserves side took on Derby County at Aldershot.
Kurt Zouma warming up with the Chelsea development squad. He's back! https://t.co/f1sTWnXzKx— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 24, 2016
Lining up on the right side of a back three (with Fikayo Tomori in the middle and Trevoh Chalobah on the left), Zouma had a mixed day before being taken off at half time in a presumably pre-arranged substitution.
Zouma brilliant last ditch tackle and then a rusty mistimed one within mins of each other as you'd expect, needs to blow out some cobwebs— (((Ollie))) (@ollie_glanvill) October 24, 2016
Looking no worse for the wear in terms of physicality, Zouma was once again impressive with his leaping and sprinting abilities. Unfortunately, his mistimed tackle gifted a penalty to Derby, which they duly converted (on the rebound) for the 1-0 lead. Chelsea would come back to take the lead in the second half before giving up a late equalizer.
But the important thing is that Zouma's back and has seemingly made it through unscathed his first real action in almost nine months. He's got a while to go yet before returning to first-team action, but we're getting close!
Thanks for all the messages & support - good to be back on the pitch tonight @ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/MFRi5j2V1L— Kurt Zouma (@KurtZouma) October 24, 2016