Chelsea: Graham Potter admits N’Golo Kante return from injury will be ‘complex’ process
Graham Potter says it’s ‘exciting’ to have N’Golo Kante back after the Chelsea midfielder finally returned to training last week… but Blues boss stresses his recovery will be a ‘complex’ process after six months out injured
- Kante was seen in Chelsea training last week for the first time since September
- The Frenchman damaged his hamstring in their draw with Spurs a month earlier
- Potter says Chelsea will be treating his return to match fitness with caution
Chelsea boss Graham Potter has warned that building N’Golo Kante’s match fitness back up will be a ‘complex’ process after the midfielder finally returned to training.
Kante was seen going through the gears at Cobham last week for the first time since September, having spent the last six months out of action with a hamstring injury.
He first sustained the problem a month earlier in the Blues’ 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham, only to reaggravate it when he resumed training five weeks later.
Now the Frenchman is edging closer towards a long-awaited return to first-team action, with his last appearance coming when Thomas Tuchel was still in charge as head coach.
Yet Potter, who is excited by the prospect of having Kante available for the first time, has stressed that he won’t be ready to play 90 minutes any time soon.
Graham Potter insists building N’Golo Kante’s match fitness up will be a ‘complex’ process
Kante has not featured since picking up a hamstring injury against Tottenham back in August
But the Frenchman finally returned to training last week after recovering from the problem
‘It’s a complex one with [Kante] because he has had a long time out,’ Potter said at his pre-match press conference before Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund.
‘It’ll be a case of how we get him back up to speed to play Premier League or Champions League football. He won’t be able to go back in for 90 minutes any time soon but the fact he is with us is exciting.’
While Kante is not in contention, Potter is sweating over the fitness of Reece James ahead of this week’s crunch Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge.
James was left out of Chelsea’s squad for their 1-0 win over Leeds on Saturday with a hamstring issue of his own, meaning he is a doubt for the decider against Dortmund.
Potter says a decision will be made over the right-back on Tuesday, though Christian Pulisic is back in the squad after a recent spell out injured.
The Blues head coach is hoping to build momentum after Saturday’s victory against Leeds, which was only their second win of 2023, when Dortmund come to town for what he expects to be a ‘special’ occasion.
He said: ‘It’s a big game, an exciting game, a chance to go through to the last eight of the Champions League. It’ll be a special night. Our thoughts are on being positive and trying to win the game.
‘It’s a good challenge for us, a big challenge for us. We’re excited for it and looking forward to it.’
Potter is looking forward to a ‘special’ night against Dortmund in the Champions League