CHELSEA boss Antonio Conte says he will not rush Kurt Zouma back to action.
The France international has been sidelined since February after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury against Manchester United.
Zouma is yet to feature under Conte since his summer arrival but the 21-year-old is now back in first-team training.
However, the Blues boss claims he has worries about aggravating the defender’s injury if he picks him to face Middlesbrough tomorrow.
“I’m happy to have this availability of the central defenders. It’s important that Kurt is back with us and, in training, he’s in good form,” said Conte.
“But it’s normal that, when you arrive after a bad injury, you need a bit of time to recover the best form.
“For this reason, we prefer Kurt in this period to play the games with the U23s. On Monday he plays with the U23s.
“It’s important to have game-time in this period. It’s good, it’s fantastic, to have another good player like Kurt Zouma available again.”