Chelsea have received a welcome boost this week as two of their star men returned to first-team training, ahead of Saturday’s top-flight clash with Brentford…
What’s the latest?
As per the club’s official website, both Reece James and his fellow Englishman Callum Hudson-Odoi have been pictured back in training at their Cobham base this week, with the two men potentially in line for a return to action against the Bees at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
James – who was forced to withdraw from Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad last week – had missed the Blues’ last two Premier League prior to the international break after picking up a muscle injury, having only briefly returned to action in the 4-0 win away at Turf Moor at the start of March following a lengthy lay-off due to a hamstring issue.
As for his £28.8m-rated teammate, the Wandsworth-born winger has not featured since the FA Cup fourth round win over Luton Town due to an Achilles injury, although will now provide his manager with further attacking reinforcements ahead of a hectic April schedule, with the west London outfit still competing on three fronts.
Boost for Final Push
For some, it may feel as if the term has only just got underway, yet the reality is we are now approaching the crescendo of what’s been a highly competitive campaign thus far, with Thomas Tuchel’s men heading into a jam-packed final two months which could well define their season.
Retaining their Champions League crown is still very much an attainable goal – as too is possible atonement for last season’s FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City – with the former Paris Saint-Germain boss set to require the services of all of his star-studded squad, as they look to ensure the season ends on a positive note amid the ongoing, off-field turbulence.
The return of academy graduate James, in particular, will serve as a real shot in the arm for both Tuchel and his charges, with the £58k-per-week gem having been in sparkling form prior to his injury absence, with his stunning displays over the last 18 months or so having even caught the eye of a certain, Dani Alves, who dubbed him a “great player”.
The versatile defender’s importance to the side was felt on what has been his one and only competitive outing in 2022 thus far against Burnley, with the one-time Wigan loanee notching a goal and assist in the away side’s brutal rout, leading to a stunning 8.6 match rating, as per SofaScore.
With a lack of depth at right-wing back, club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been forced to fill in in James’ absence, although perhaps lacks the speed and power of his younger colleague, while also failing to provide that added threat in the final third that the Englishman possesses, with the ten-cap international having registered an impressive 11 goal contributions in just 17 top-flight outings.
As for Hudson-Odoi, the former Bayern Munich target has endured something of a stop-start campaign once again for the Blues – with just one goal in 11 league starts – although has the chance to stake his claim in the club’s frontline, with the likes of Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku all floundering at present, amid rumours of potential exits.
All in all, this latest injury update will surely leave Tuchel absolutely delighted heading into an important run of fixtures.
AND in other news, Chelsea could secure a perfect Rudiger alternative in £36m-rated “beast”…