After participating in an hour-long friendly game on Friday behind closed doors, N’Golo Kante made his first Chelsea appearance in over seven months.
After suffering a hamstring injury in the 2-2 Premier League match with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the 30-year-old has been out since August.
Kante was later ruled out of the 2022 World Cup, in which France advanced to the final before losing to Argentina. Still, earlier this month, he returned to squad practice.
The midfielder was not used as a substitute when Chelsea and Everton drew 2-2 at home in the Premier League last weekend. Still, he could accrue some significant playing time in a friendly on Friday.
Kante participated for 60 minutes as Chelsea defeated Charlton Athletic 3-0 at the Cobham training facility.
Thiago Silva and Mason Mount, Kante’s colleagues, offered encouragement to him during the match. Mason Mount was sporting a shirt that read “Kante No. 7” as he watched from the stands.
The Frenchman’s return to the field gives head coach Graham Potter much-needed momentum as he prepares for the crucial last few weeks of the regular season in the Premier League and Champions League.
Enzo Fernandez, a January record acquisition who has started each of Chelsea’s last nine games in all competitions in Kante’s absence, has established himself as a first-team fixture in Potter’s midfield.
In recent weeks, Carney Chukwuemeka, Mateo Kovacic, Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and others have also been eligible for selection.
Therefore, Kante’s addition to the squad would bolster Chelsea’s hopes of moving into the top 4 of the EPL and progressing in the Champions League.