Antonio Conte has hinted that Ross Barkley could be in line to make his debut for Chelsea in the coming weeks.
The 24-year-old midfielder became the west London side’s first signing of the January transfer window last week when Chelsea completed a move to land him from Everton on a long-term contract.
Barkley has not featured at all for Everton this season due to a serious hamstring injury but he has been training at Chelsea’s Cobham base for the last few days as he bids to prove his fitness for Conte.
Chelsea fans will be hoping to see Barkley given a run-out in the Blues team for the first time in the coming few weeks as the England international looks to try and stake his claim for a regular spot in the starting line-up.
Conte was asked about when Barkley could feature for the first time for Chelsea ahead of the League Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Wednesday night, and the Blues boss appeared to hint that he could be ready to feature sooner rather than later.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Conte said: “[The Arsenal game was] too soon for Ross but we must be pleased because his physical condition is good and he has started train with us and understand our football.
“We must be pleased. He needs a bit of time to work on the physical and tactical aspect, but his condition is very good.
“He is a good guy and he has shown great desire to work and to help us.”
Chelsea are currently preparing for their Premier League clash against Leicester City on Saturday, and it remains to be seen whether Barkley could be included in the squad for that game.