N’Golo Kante is finally back in Chelsea training as the midfielder edges closer towards a long-awaited return from injury.
Kante has only featured twice for the Blues this season after picking up a hamstring problem in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham back in August, which has kept him out of action for the past seven months.
After initially missing their next six matches, the France international returned to training in September and was poised to come back into the side before reaggravating his injury, meaning he has missed the majority of the campaign.
During his spell on the sidelines, Thomas Tuchel was sacked as Chelsea boss and replaced by Graham Potter, who is now facing the axe himself amid a disastrous run of just one win in 11 games and as many goals scored in six.
Yet in a timely boost for Potter, Kante returned to training on Wednesday as he closes in on a full recovery from the hamstring issue.
It is believed he could be available for Potter for the very first time next month, although the head coach is facing a battle to remain in charge by that point.
Chelsea have been in freefall under Potter in recent months; registering just one win this calendar year, crashing out of every domestic cup competition and sinking to 10th in the Premier League table.
They are also staring Champions League elimination in the face after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, with the decider to come on Tuesday.
Despite the backing he has received from owner Todd Boehly so far, the Blues’ next two outings against Leeds and Dortmund could be crucial for Potter.
Should another defeat come in one or both of those fixtures, the former Brighton manager’s position at Stamford Bridge will be under serious threat.
Kante returning to action sooner rather than later would only help his cause, however Chelsea are likely to ease him back into the side after such a long spell out injured.
Reports also suggest he is on the verge of signing a new three-year contract at the club, with his current deal set to expire this summer.
The 31-year-old is widely considered the best box-to-box midfielder in world football when fit and firing, having played an integral role in Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup triumphs since moving to Chelsea in 2016.