After settling in at our warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi, we caught up with head coach Graham Potter to hear about how the group of injured players on the trip are progressing with their rehabilitation.
Our 25-man squad has been bolstered by a number of players who are returning from medium-term injury layoffs, including Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana.
With each of them dealing with different prognoses and working on separate individual return programmes, the extent of their involvement in team training so far in the Middle East has been varied.
However, both James and Fofana have been pictured on the grass in recent days and Potter started with an update on our defensive duo.
‘Reece is not quite fully training but he’s integrating into training along with Wesley,’ he said. ‘Wesley is a little bit further behind but not too far.’
Fofana has been sidelined since early October while James came off in our victory at the San Siro a week later and was subsequently forced to miss the World Cup with a knee injury, as was Chilwell after tearing his hamstring against Dinamo Zagreb.
‘Ben has come back from his individual work in Dubai and he’s now working closer with the guys but still not team training,’ updated Potter on our number 21, who was in the gym with his team-mates earlier in the week.
‘N’Golo is a little bit further away but again he’s progressing well,’ added the head coach.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another who has been absent in recent weeks after sustaining a calf injury in our final game before the World Cup against Newcastle United, while Kepa Arrizabalaga’s layoff has been a fortnight longer.
‘Kepa is not quite with the team yet but has stepped up his rehab,’ added Graham. ‘Ruben is doing some work in the gym so we’re hopeful that he can be involved next week but we’ll see how he goes.
‘There are lots of players at different levels and that’s the challenge but we’re making progress so that’s the positive.’
You can hear more from Graham Potter in an exclusive video interview on this website and The 5th Stand app in the coming days.
The Blues play a friendly against Aston Villa on Sunday which will be streamed live on The 5th Stand app and chelseafc.com in the UK and Ireland. Tickets are still available here.