Chelsea are hoping to welcome Christopher Nkunku back from injury in time to start the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Newcastle United, Betwizad understands.
The Frenchman joined from RB Leipzig for a fee of £52m during the summer but, after impressing in his first few pre-season outings, suffered a knee injury which required surgery.
It was initially feared that Nkunku would not return until 2024 but manager Mauricio Pochettino recently revealed the 25-year-old is ahead of schedule and predicted a possible return after the November international break.
Chelsea will return to action on November 25 with a Premier League meeting with Newcastle, before league games against Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United, Everton and Sheffield United in the first two weeks of December.
ources have confirmed to Betwizad that Chelsea are hopeful of seeing Nkunku start the Carabao Cup clash with Newcastle on December 20, with a return to competitive action planned for the fixtures earlier in the month.
Chelsea confirmed earlier this week that Nkunku had progressed to the next stage of his recovery – an update which was followed by a social media post from the Frenchman was the caption “getting closer”.
Nkunku is one of several Chelsea stars to have battled injuries during the first half of the season, with fellow summer signing Romeo Lavia also waiting for his competitive debut.
A hamstring injury delayed his first appearance following Lavia’s £58m move from Southampton, before a knock to his ankle during training sent him back to the treatment table.
Chelsea had hoped Lavia would have returned from that setback by now but are not prepared to take any risks with the young Belgian. Pochettino has already confirmed the midfielder will not return over the international break, but the Blues are hopeful of seeing Lavia pick up some minutes in December.
Centre-back Wesley Fofana also remains out after rupturing his ACL in July. The Frenchman underwent surgery but teased fans in October with a social media post suggesting his return could come “soon”.
Club officials are hopeful that Fofana will be able to step up his quest to return in January, six months after his surgery, but no risks will be taken with the defender.