Antonio Conte has been handed a timely injury boost with the news that Ross Barkley has come through an hour of action with Chelsea’s U23 side seemingly unscathed.
The former Everton midfielder has yet to get things going in west London since securing a £15m move from the Toffees in January as he has been plagued by injuries.
Barkley has made just one start for his new club – a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Bournemouth – and has not featured for Chelsea since.
On Thursday, Conte revealed that the 24-year-old would make his return for the U23s on Saturday as the Blues were set to take on Derby County.
“For Barkley, he started to have the training sessions and we’ve preferred to have him with the under-23s and to play on Saturday before coming back with us,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
“We are talking about a player that is coming back from a bad injury, seven months without playing. We want to have patience with him and then to be sure before we bring him back to the first-team.”
Conte will be happy to see Barkley come through the game in good nick as he completed a full hour of action before being replaced by George McEachran.
The Blues held a 2-0 advantage at the time of Barkley’s substitution, with Daishawn Redan bagging a first half brace to give his side the advantage.
The Dutch striker – who joined from Ajax over the summer – then added a third before he was replaced himself by Charlie Brown before the final whistle.
Meanwhile, Callum Hudson-Odoi was withdrawn from the development squad after being drafted in as cover for the first team ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Spurs.