Kurt Zouma handed Antonio Conte a major boost after the made his first appearance in over nine months for the Chelsea U23 side during their 2-2 draw against Derby County in Premier League 2. The defender is returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered during Chelsea's clash against Manchester United in February earlier this year.
The French defender made his breakthrough into the Blues first-team under Jose Mourinho and was a regular member of the senior squad when he suffered the injury. He returned to training at the start of the season, but Conte remains cautious in rushing him back to action owing to the severity of his injury.
Zouma will have his task cut out as he is now behind John Terry, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta in the pecking order for a place in Chelsea's defensive line, which has now been switched to back three under the new manager's preferred 3-4-3 formation. He is unlikely to return to the first-team immediately as his 90 minutes against Derby was his first in over nine months, and he is likely to play at least another game for the U23 side to build match fitness before making the step up.
Chelsea take on West Ham United in the fourth round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday and one defender who is likely to make his return from injury is John Terry. The Blues skipper has been sidelined for over a month with an ankle injury, and despite returning to fitness ahead of Chelsea's weekend win over United, he remained an unused substitute during their 4-0 win.
The former England international is expected to be brought back into the starting lineup for the London derby, according to the Daily Mail. Terry will be keen to impress Conte and regain his regular place in the starting XI, which is now being occupied by Azpilicueta, who has been deployed as a right sided central defender as part of a back three which includes Cahill and Luiz.