Kovacic back but Chelsea face lengthy spell without Kante

Mateo Kovacic is back in the Chelsea squad and set for a place on the bench against Leicester this weekend.

The midfielder, who has not featured this season because of a knee problem, returned to full training this week.

But boss Thomas Tuchel insists Kovacic will need to be eased back to action.

Tuchel explained: “He is back in the group and ready to play some, 20, minutes.

“We’ve missed him as a personality and his experience and quality, of course.

“But it’s maybe 20 minutes at the moment. It was his first training week without a reaction in the knee.

“We cannot rush things, otherwise we will just sabotage our own plans with him. We need him long-term.

“But it’s good to have him back and have the option on the bench.”

However, the news on N’Golo Kante is much less positive. The Frenchman faces another lengthy spell out with a hamstring injury.

“We’re talking about four weeks plus,” Tuchel said.

“He is our key player normally. He gives something to our team that no other player in the world can give to any other team.

“If your key player is out it’s a situation that you don’t like and have to deal with. He has huge influence, of course.”