The end of last season was marred by a number of injuries to key players, most long-term enough to keep them out of preseason entirely as well as the first few games of the new season.
But the situation is slowly improving. N’Golo Kanté made his first start against Liverpool on Wednesday and dropped in a masterclass. Antonio Rüdiger and Willian were on the bench, and their return to full match fitness should be happening sooner rather than later. In Willian’s case, it might even happen this weekend.
“Rudiger is training. Whether he’s completely match fit is a different thing, for the same reasons as Callum, a bit of conditioning [needed]. Willian is probably closer. They are both in contention for the weekend.”
Meanwhile, the two teenagers who are slated to make big contributions this season should be back next month as well, probably soon after the first International break of the season, which is scheduled for the first two weeks of September. Callum Hudson-Odoi has already started training with the Development Squad.
“He’s getting closer. He’s trained the last week or two with the Under-23s and is looking good. There is going to be a period of conditioning work for him. The injury looks good which is the great news. Then he’s going to have to be fitter than he’s ever been because I’m going to want him to run!
“Probably next month considering the international break maybe falling at a good time for us. It gives us a couple of weeks to really see how he’s getting on with the conditioning training. It’s good news for us. It’s slightly gone amiss with the transfer ban and the obsession with young players, but we are missing six players from the squad, including Reece James, big players. As they are coming back it’s going to make us stronger.”
- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea have three games until the international break, this Sunday against Leicester City, then back-to-back tests against newly promoted sides Norwich City and Sheffield United. With or without the injured players — and let’s not forget about Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who probably won’t be returning before the new year — we should be collecting maximum points.