Graham Potter has revealed his plan for N’Golo Kante who hopes to make his first Chelsea appearance since August 2022 following a hamstring injury.
The 31-year-old was forced off during the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge against Tottenham Hotspur and was due to only be out for a couple of weeks. However, Kante suffered a setback and a decision was made for him to undergo surgery, which he did in October.
As a result, Kante was sidelined for around four months and made his return to the grass in February. He carried out light individual work before stepping up his recovery by joining in the warm-up sessions with the rest of his teammates.
Kante’s road to recovery is now almost complete after completing his first two full training sessions prior to Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night to progress into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Potter confirmed Kante would not be available to face Dortmund despite his first-team involvement, along with other injured star Christian Pulisic who made the bench for the European affair.
“It’s too soon for N’Golo; he’s only had two full training sessions,” said the 47-year-old on Monday.
Chelsea face Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, hoping to claim their third win in a row in all competitions, but Kante won’t feature for 90 minutes.
There is a chance he could make the squad if Potter deems him fit enough, but no risks will be taken with the midfielder.
Kante’s return has been labelled as ‘complex’ by Potter who will integrate his star-man back into the gradually before he plays a full 90 minutes which appears to be weeks away.
“It’s a complex one with him because he has had a long time out,” responded the Chelsea head coach on the handling of Kante’s recovery.
“So he’s back in full training but then it’s how we get him up to speed to play in the Champions League or Premier League. That is when he needs bit of time with the group, bit of time in training, and we’ll need to build his minutes up.
“He won’t be able to go straight in for 90 minutes any time soon but the fact he is training and with us, the fact he is training, is exciting.”
Potter is yet to see Kante play for Chelsea since his appointment last September and will be keen to have him at his disposal for the final weeks of the 2022/23 campaign, including for their Champions League quarter-final games next month.
He is likely to have Kante in his squad next season too despite the France international being out of contract this summer. Chelsea are confident of tying him down to a new deal.
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