N’Golo Kante has joined full-contact training at Chelsea, with it possible that the France international could now play a part in the Blues’ remaining Premier League fixtures.
Doubts had been cast over the midfielder’s involvement in the nine games Frank Lampard’s side still have to take in this season.
That is because he had been granted compassionate leave to remain away from Cobham due to fears regarding his health during the coronavirus crisis.
Kante played no part in phase one of a return to training that initially ruled out any contact between players and staff.
Social-distancing measures have, however, been relaxed amid the regular rounds of Covid-19 testing being carried out by the Premier League.
No positive results were recorded in the last round, with competitive football then greenlighted to resume.
The English top flight is due to restart on 17 June, with Chelsea set to make their return to action on 21 June away at Aston Villa.
It remains to be seen if Kante will play any part in that outing, or any of those taking the Blues past the finishing post.
He was not involved in an in-house training game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but is now firmly part of the fold as Lampard steps up his preparatory plans.
Chelsea will continue to let Kante work towards full match sharpness at his own pace, which may result in him missing the opening rounds of fixtures.
His presence in the engine room would, however, be welcomed by a team that remains very much in contention for a top-four finish.
Chelsea will return to the field fourth on the table, three points clear of Manchester United and the rest of the Champions League-chasing pack.
Securing qualification for elite European competition should help Lampard’s quest to bring further fresh faces into Stamford Bridge over the coming weeks.
A deal has already been tied up for Hakim Ziyech, while the Blues have also agreed to trigger the £54-million (€60m/$68m) release clause in the contract of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.
The spending is not expected to stop there, with Leicester left back Ben Chilwell now the top target for those in west London while Kai Havertz’s situation at Bayer Leverkusen will continue to be monitored as the 20-year-old playmaker attracts admiring glances from across Europe.
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