Zouma to take another step towards first-team return

Kurt Zouma will take another step towards a first-team return when Chelsea’s development side face Oxford United in the EFL Trophy at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Zouma was sidelined by a long-term knee injury last February but has featured for the Blues’ Under-23 team in their last couple of matches.

And he has been penciled in for another appearance as part of his comeback.

Chelsea are hopeful the French defender will then resume training with the senior squad and will be available soon after the international break.

“He played two games with the Under-23s and he will play another game on Tuesday,” boss Antonio Conte confirmed at a press conference on Friday.

“His recovery is very good, we are satisfied with it. Now we hope he can stay with us for the rest of the season.”

Conte also confirmed that Cesc Fabregas is close to fitness following a recent injury.

Both players could therefore be in contention for the trip to Middlesbrough on 20 November.

Conte said: “I’m pleased for Cesc because he is important for us, and also for Kurt.

“It’s normal that when you restart after a long period of rest you need to find the best form, the best shape.

“I think after an international break they will be available for selection.”

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