Antonio Conte was asked about the fitness of N’Golo Kanté in the post-match press conference following Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Everton in the League Cup on Wednesday night, and the Chelsea boss had some wonderful tidings to share. Kanté is now ‘ready’ to return (woo!) but we must stay patient (boo!).
"[Kanté] is progressing well. I saw him in a good physical condition. At this moment we have to find the strength to keep calm and find the right moment to put him in the team. It will be very easy now to tell him to play. We have to find the best solution for him. He's ready."
-Antonio Conte; source: Football.London
So, Kanté is ready, just as Conte had hoped last week he would be, when the Chelsea coach talk about getting the all-important midfielder back from the hamstring injury at least in time for the AS Roma away game in a week’s time.
The temptation obviously is to plug him back into the lineup straight away, but playing three games in eight days — Bournemouth, Roma, Manchester United — is probably not the best way to ensure that the hamstring injury doesn’t recur. With Drinkwater now also available (though not expected to be fully fit for a few more games yet), plus the possibility of playing David Luiz or Ampadu, even, Conte finally has a few options for his midfield setup. There is no need to force anything at this point.
Either way, it sounds like Kanté will be back for both games next week, while he might also make a substitute appearance over the weekend when Chelsea travel to Bournemouth.