CHELSEA host Crystal Palace this afternoon in the Premier League but which members of Maurizio Sarri’s squad are injured and who is fit to play?
Ruben Loftus-Cheek faces Crystal Palace for the first time since his return to Chelsea having been told there is still a place for him at Selhurst Park.
The 22-year-old midfielder is in contention to feature against the team he excelled with while on loan last season, and who had hoped to re-sign him on either a permanent or temporary basis.
However, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri instead insists he remains in his first-team plans.
But after a season of regular Premier League football that culminated in playing for England at the World Cup, Loftus-Cheek has not been as central as he would like.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson had not expected their opponents to again release someone he considers a “top class player”, but he revealed that when his loan spell concluded he instead extended Loftus-Cheek an open invitation to return.
“When he left I was congratulating him on his season, on being picked for England,” Hodgson said.
“I said to him ‘Don’t forget, there’s always a place for you here; if you are moving on we’d love to have you back, but I’m now expecting you to go to Russia to do extremely well for England and I’m expecting Chelsea to welcome you back with open arms. I’ll be surprised if you come back here, but you know you’re always welcome’.
“That’s how we left it, and I think that’s what he hoped to hear from me, and expected.
“I’ll be happy to see him, whether he plays or not. If you wish people well you shouldn’t really wish for them to be dropped from the team, but I’ll be happy to see him, happy to see Ross Barkley, and happy to see Gary Cahill, who even captained England during my time there.
“That’s three people I’ve had close working relationships with I’ll be pleased to see again, and fearful of the qualities they’ll bring to the game.”
Chelsea injury news – who is OUT?
Olivier Giroud is a doubt with a muscular injury but Sarri expects the Frenchman to be available for their next match against BATE on Thursday.
Ethan Ampadu returned to training this week following a knee complaint but it may be too soon for the Welshman to feature.
Eden Hazard appears to have recovered from his back injury and is expected to play some part against Crystal Palace.
“He might not be ready for 90 minutes yet,” Sarri said.
“It was the first part of training for a few weeks. He might be able to play for 40-45 minutes.”