Graham Potter has ensured Chelsea have a ‘clear and careful’ plan in place for Reece James who could make his return from injury on Tuesday against AFC Bournemouth.
The 23-year-old has been out of action since October due to a knee injury sustained against AC Milan in the Champions League.
James was handed the agonising news of missing out of England’s World Cup squad which left him to fully focus on recovering and getting back fit in time for Chelsea’s Premier League restart on December 27 against Bournemouth.
He has gradually stepped up his recovery. James travelled out with the squad to Abu Dhabi for warm-weather training, but he didn’t feature in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Aston Villa.
Potter has welcomed back the right-back to full training this month, a big boost for Chelsea as they eye an upturn in their form following a run of three straight league defeats and no win in five.
James featured for 65 minutes against Brentford in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week, Potter confirmed, stepping up his return and hopes of featuring against Bournemouth.
But Potter, 47, insisted he won’t rush the England international back from injury to ensure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks and outlined the plans in place for the defender.
“If you look at how the team was functioning before and after he got injured, it’s not the only reason of course, but Reece is a top, top player and when he’s not with us it’s a miss,” said Potter, as quoted by Adam Newson.
“The plan is to try to help him build up his minutes, and the next challenge is to build him up in the Premier League, which is not the ideal place to do it. He’s got the capacity to do that, but we just need to be clear and careful with the minutes that he plays.
“I’m confident the more he plays the more we’ll see what a fantastic player he is.”
When James returns to the pitch at Stamford Bridge, he will be welcomed by a personalised banner in the Shed End which supporters have paid for – it reads: ‘BUILT DIFFERENT’.
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Confirmed teams for Premier League clash
Man United vs Chelsea: Absolute Chelsea predicts outcome of Premier League clash
How to watch Man United vs Chelsea in the Premier League
When and who are the Chelsea players still playing at 2022 World Cup and how to watch action in Qatar?
When and who do Chelsea play on their return to Premier League action?
Aston Villa vs Chelsea LIVE: John McGinn clinches Challenge Cup victory in Abu Dhabi as Broja suffers knee injury
Watch: Relive Chelsea’s thrilling 4-4 draw against Man City as Cole Palmer silences former club
“That’s how I find out” – Chelsea star explains moment he learned of special Mauricio Pochettino decision
Watch: Mauricio Pochettino handed huge injury return as Chelsea prepare for Aston Villa clash
Match Coverage4 days ago
Predicted Chelsea XI to face Brighton: James replacement named as Pochettino makes Nkunku decision
News3 days ago
FA Cup third round draw: Chelsea ball number, confirmed teams, how to watch, fixture dates
Match Coverage4 days ago
Confirmed Officials: Chelsea vs Brighton & Hove Albion | Premier League
News5 days ago
Inside Chelsea’s ‘really tough week’ & Pochettino’s private chat with Reece James after Newcastle red card