Kurt Zouma made his long-awaited Chelsea return on Monday night, playing 45 minutes for the club’s Under-23 side in a 2-2 draw with Derby County.
The 21-year-old, who suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in February and missed Euro 2012, managed to play 45 minutes for the development side – his first action in almost nine months.
The France international is on the verge of completing his comeback to the first team but enjoyed a difficult return to action when he conceded a first-half penalty before being withdrawn at the half-time break.
Chelsea fans will be pleased to see the formation system to suit that of Antonio Conte with manager Adi Viveash setting up in a 3-4-2-3 formation with Zouma one of three central defenders.
In the 35th minute Zouma hacked down top scorer Charles Vernam, conceding the spot kick with an ill-timed challenge. Vernam stepped up and saw his penalty saved by goalkeeper Bradley Collins which allowed Callum Guy to tap Derby into the lead.
Given Conte’s struggles at the back so far this season, Zouma’s return to action will be a welcome sight – even if it will take him a few weeks to get up to match fitness.
Chelsea team: Collins, Dabo (c), Zouma (Sterling 45), Tomori, T.Chalobah, Scott, Ali, Sammut (Muheim 80), Ugbo, Christie-Davies (Mount 74), J.Dasilva