A rejuvenated Chelsea are flying high at the moment, winning their last five games convincingly while maintaining a perfect clean sheet record at the same time. And now, the side’s morale will be further boosted by the return of their long term absentee Kurt Zouma.
The Chelsea defender got injured last season and that devastating ACL injury took a toll on his football career. He had not been able to play competitive games for a long stretch of seven months. However, Zouma made a comeback earlier this month, when he was used as a substitute for the Chelsea Under-23 side. That news naturally made all the fans happy, but they have more reasons to rejoice now.
Just the other day, following his three appearances from the bench, Zouma was included in the Chelsea Under-23 starting lineup against Oxford United when the two sides met in the Checkatrade Trophy at Stamford Bridge. The 22 year old played the full game against the minnows. The match ended 1-1 after the regulation time and then, Zouma helped his team win the fixture 13-12 by scoring two spotkicks during the penalty shootout.
After the game, Chelsea Under-23s coach Adi Viveash told that the player is mostly ready to train with Antonio Conte. However, he also said that Zouma is still building up and getting closer to be fully fit for ninety minutes of first team action. And this match against Oxford was another step to ensure that. “We will see if there are any problems with the knee tomorrow,” Viveash said.
The youth coach also expressed his delight in working with the star, “He has been a privilege to work with, he is a fine young player, he has been tremendous with the boys, he works very, very hard every day. He has been really good and he gives good advice, but you have still got to remember that he is very young and he has now got to get into a defence that is performing excellently at the minute but what he does do is that he gives the manager another quality player and that, I imagine, is important for his squad.”
“We are pleased to have helped him on his road and now it goes to the powers that be to decide what happens with him,” Viveash further added.
Zouma will start training with the first team Chelsea players that have not gone on international duty on Thursday and the manager will surely look forward to have him back. Conte has been using an effective 3-4-3 system, and the inclusion of Zouma will give him options to use at the central defense. But, it is also true that the player, after losing a long time of first team football, will have to work as hard as possible to make his way to the starting lineup.
Nonetheless, Zouma has been extremely delighted after returning to action, and one can totally understand the exuberance. Here is his tweet after the match:
— Kurt Zouma (@KurtZouma) November 9, 2016
Photo by Aleksandr Osipov