Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has conceded that he will not be fit to start the new Premier League season as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
The 21-year-old ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in February, and missed the rest of the season as well as Euro 2016 as a result.
Given the seriousness of the injury, it’s no surprise that it will take the pacy defender time to fully recover, and it could have sparked panic for him given that he will be behind in terms of making his case to become a fixture of Antonio Conte’s plans.
The Frenchman played regularly under both Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink last season, and despite the fact that he will remain on the sidelines to start Conte’s first campaign in charge, he is confident that he will still feature heavily next season.
“I am working hard every day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., I am working on the knee and on some cardio [at Cobham],” Zouma told The Telegraph. “I won’t be ready for the start of the season, but the doctor is happy with my knee and I’m feeling good. I have to take care and not rush, so I will take my time.
“I am not worried about the new manager coming in. I did well before I was injured. I will speak with Conte and see what he wants from me.
“The new manager wants to do much better than last season and he will bring in new players. That is not a problem. When you are at a big club like Chelsea there is always big competition for places.
“I was happy with myself and I did well when I was playing. Now I have to be ready for next year. I am very happy at Chelsea and I want to show everyone that I will be back even stronger after my injury.
“The new manager will be good for me and for everyone. I am a defender. Tactically I want to learn more. I want to work on that side more. I will be ready tactically.”
Zouma also went on to welcome John Terry’s new deal which will see him remain at Stamford Bridge for another year, although there could yet be further competition for places once Conte arrives.
The Italy coach is currently busy at Euro 2016 as he looks to guide the Azzurri to success in France before packing his bags for west London, and with plenty of time before the season starts, he’ll undoubtedly have his eye on bringing in reinforcements before things get underway.