Chelsea boss Graham Potter is looking forward to naming N’Golo Kante in his squad against Everton on Saturday for the first time since taking charge of the Blues.
Kante has been sidelined for seven months by a hamstring injury that required surgery.
The Frenchman’s last appearance for Chelsea came before Potter succeeded Thomas Tuchel as manager in September.
Chelsea have badly missed the presence of the 31-year-old defensive midfielder as they sit 10th in the Premier League and were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions by Manchester City.
But Kante could yet play a pivotal role in Chelsea’s challenge for the Champions League after being pitted against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
“There is a chance for him to be in the squad,” Potter said Friday.
“It would be the first time so it’s fantastic. Managers before me have spoken very highly of N’Golo because he’s a top, top player.
“He’s been a huge miss to us. That’s not to say the other players haven’t given absolutely everything because they have, but N’Golo Kante is N’Golo Kante. A top player.
“It’s great for us he’s back. We need to be mindful of the fact he’s had a long injury and we need to take the next steps to get him up to speed in the Premier League, which is what we’ll do.”
Three consecutive wins have eased the pressure on Potter’s position after a woeful run of two victories in Chelsea’s previous 15 games.
But the Blues will still need a near flawless climax to the season if they are to force their way back into the race for a top-four finish.
“After three wins you have to say life is better. Results give everybody a bit of belief and a bit of happiness, and that’s what we’re here for, we’re here to win,” added Potter.
“Results weren’t good enough and we all have to take responsibility for it. It’s handy to have luck, it’s important, but you can’t wait for that to come around.
“You have to keep going and fight through the storm. There was a storm for a period of time, absolutely, but we’ve come out of it with three wins and now we need to carry on.”
Potter confirmed that Mason Mount will be forced to pull out of the England squad due to a pubic bone injury.
Raheem Sterling will also miss Everton’s visit because of a hamstring problem.