Two of Chelsea’s best players were captured in an image at the training ground together as they continue ongoing treatment ahead of eagerly awaited returns to action. With Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell and Armando Broja also facing time out with varying degrees of injury, an energetic core has been lost.
Graham Potter has struggled to come up with answers to these losses and that is reflected by the results, with Chelsea winning just one of the eight league games without Reece James this season and none of their last six. In a wider view there has been just one game since December 2021 that saw all of James, Chilwell and N’Golo Kante play together and that was against Everton on the opening day.
Although Kante has been in and out of the side for three years with persistent knee issues following on from the Europa League final in 2019, he is still one of the most unique, important and irreplaceable players in the squad. He has played in just two matches for club and country all season after going off against Tottenham in August.
His recurring issues meant that when coming close to the repair under Potter another blow was dealt and surgery was needed. It’s now unlikely that he’ll be back on the pitch before mid-March. James will be back sooner, expected to be in action come the end of January. In the mean time, Potter has a double-header against Manchester City to play as well as Liverpool too.
Chelsea will be without their two best players for all three of those games as pressure mounts in an unhappy fanbase. There has been a ray of positivity though, with James posting an image of the pair on social media captioned:
“On the mend!”
Whereas several weeks ago there was a distinct chance that Kante may have played his last game for the club the latest understanding is that things are progressing for a new deal . At 31 it becomes hard to offer any player a long-term deal that will give them the assurances required to sign, especially under these circumstances, however talks remain ongoing.
Kante’s deal has just under six months to run and he can now speak to other clubs regarding a pre- contract agreement for the end of the season. James himself signed a new long-term deal keeping him at the club until 2028.