Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is nearing match fitness and preparing to slot straight into Antonio Conte’s 3-man defence, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The defender has of course been unavailable for selection since he underwent surgery for a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained last February. The Frenchman had earned a myriad of plaudits before this, his combination of pace and strength having earned him a starting berth in the Chelsea XI. It is, however, fair to say that things have changed utterly at Stamford Bridge in the intervening months.
Zouma was quick to point out that the formation has been implemented by the Chelsea development squad, with whom he has featured recently; ”
‘We’ve played with three at the back in the last two games as well, which has been good for me to understand and learn the position a bit better. ‘I’ve not played in that system much in my career but this is what the first team are using at the moment so it was good for me to experience it.’
It is hard to imagine who from the Chelsea team would drop out to accommodate Zouma given the imperious performances of Cahill, Azpilicueta and especially David Luiz in recent weeks which has seen them keep a clean sheet in their last 5 premier league games. The thinking has to be that Zouma will get fleeting opportunities when he returns to the first team, and so will need to be operating at full tilt to take advantage. He is confident that he is up to the task;
‘I have been training with the development squad for a couple of weeks and I’ve enjoyed the experience a lot.’
‘They have some very good players so the training and matches have been very good.’
‘I have been going step by step with my rehabilitation and the games were a good test for me and my knee. It’s been nice to be with the boys on a game day, travelling with them and trying to give out some good advice to them.’
His return to the first team looks set to come just when Chelsea are looking strongest, and is the latest addition to the stream of positivity surrounding the club at the moment.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena