Graham Potter has confirmed Chelsea defenders Reece James and Wesley Fofana are close to returning to full training ahead of the return of the Premier League later this month.
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James, 22, was left out of England’s World Cup squad after sustaining a knee injury against AC Milan in October.
Blues team-mate Fofana suffered a muscular injury just days before James’ setback, ending any hopes he had of featuring for World Cup holders France in Qatar.
Potter’s reign at Stamford Bridge has been plagued with injury issues, with Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Kepa Arrizabalaga also missing games due to various problems.
Chelsea fans have also been sweating on Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s fitness after the injury-prone midfielder suffered a calf injury in the team’s final game before the World Cup break.
The Blues are currently enjoying a warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi and Potter has offered updates on his injured players ahead of the return of the Premier League.
Chelsea, who have lost their last three league games to slip to eighth in the Premier League, return to action on December 27 against Bournemouth.
‘Reece [James] is not quite fully training but he’s integrating into training along with Wesley [Fofana],’ Potter told Chelsea’s official website. ‘Wesley is a little bit further behind but not too far.
‘Ben [Chilwell] has come back from his individual work in Dubai and he’s now working closer with the guys but still not team training. N’Golo [Kante] is a little bit further away but again he’s progressing well.
‘Kepa [Arrizabalaga] is not quite with the team yet but has stepped up his rehab. Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] 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.’
Chelsea initially impressed after Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat but three successive defeats before the World Cup has left the Blues eight points outside the Champions League places.
After returning to action against Bournemouth, Chelsea take on Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day before facing Manchester City twice in the space of three days, first in the league and then in the third round of the FA Cup.
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