N’Golo Kante is on the verge of making his return from a hamstring injury, according to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.
The tireless midfielder has missed the past four Blues games with the issue that he picked up on international duty with France last month.
Speaking after Chelsea’s 2-1 Carabao Cup win over Everton on Wednesday (as quoted by the Metro), Conte was asked when Kante would be expected to feature again – and the Italian revealed that it would be sooner rather than later.
He said: “He’s progressing well. I am happy, I saw him in a good physical condition.
“We need to keep calm and find the right moment to put him in the team. Now it will be very easy to tell him to play. We must pay attention and to find the best solution for him. He’s ready.”
Kante is not thought to be in contention to feature in the Premier League clash with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, but could be in line to start the encounter with title rivals Manchester United a week later.
The 26-year-old had been a virtual ever-present in the reigning league champions’ starting lineup throughout this season – the club’s two Carabao Cup matches aside – before he sustained a muscle problem during France’s 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Bulgaria on 7th October.
That hamstring issue led to Kante missing Les Bleus’ 2-1 victory over Belarus three days later, as well as Chelsea’s games against the Toffees, Roma, Crystal Palace and Watford.
Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas have been Conte’s first-choice centre midfield partnership in Kante’s absence, while youngster Natah Ampadu did himself no harm with another decent outing against Everton in the Cup on Wednesday.