Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been handed a massive injury boost after Mateo Kovacic returned to full training, though he will not play in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
The European champions have been struggling with a number of absentees recently, with the likes of Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Romelu Lukaku and Kovacic all sidelined.
Croatia international Kovacic has missed Chelsea’s last eight games with a hamstring injury suffered in the last minute of a training session in October, but he is finally on the verge of a return.
According to The Times, the 27-year-old has recovered from the problem and returned to full training this week.
Although Chelsea need to beat Zenit Saint Petersburg when they travel to Russia on Wednesday night in their final Champions League clash to guarantee top spot, Kovacic is not expected to be part of the travelling party.
The Blues do not want to take any risks with the Croatian and they are instead targeting a return in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Leeds United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s injury woes continued at the weekend against West Ham, with Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso both having to come off with injuries.
In midfield, Jorginho has been playing with a hip injury while Saul Niguez was once again hauled off after just 45 minutes in the recent clash with Watford.
The Spaniard could now be forced to play at left wing-back if Alonso has to join Chilwell on the treatment table for a prolonged period of time.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been picked to partner Jorginho while Kante and Kovacic have been sidelined, but the Croatian is expected to come straight back into the starting XI in place of the English midfielder as soon as he is fully fit.
Tuchel is known to be very cautious with players returning from injury and has been blooding Lukaku back in slowly after his lay-off despite the striker being eager to start.