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Hudson-Odoi and James to return to action in Chelsea Under-23s match

14:42 BST 12/09/2019
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea
The Blues academy graduates are both yet to appear this season but are close to offering Frank Lampard a timely fitness boost

Chelsea duo Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are set to step up their returns from injury on Friday in the club's Under-23s match against Brighton.

The pair are very much in Frank Lampard's first-team plans this season, and they are set to boost the Blues' squad ahead of a busy month of September where the Champions League and Carabao Cup both begin.

Hudson-Odoi has been out with a ruptured Achilles tendon since late April, with his return coming quicker than many expected after less than five months spent on the sidelines.

The 18-year-old will sign a new £180,000-a-week contract in the coming days to accompany his return, allowing the Blues to ward off interest from Bayern Munich.

The England international had been keen to face Sheffield United ahead of the international break but was held back to continue his training.

James, meanwhile, has returned from a stand out loan spell at Wigan Athletic where he won the Championship club's Player of the Season and earned a place in the EFL Team of the Year.

The 19-year-old was due to join the Chelsea squad during pre-season but suffered an ankle ligament injury while representing England in the Toulon Tournament which required surgery.

James returned to training this week and he has already been involved in a behind closed doors friendly match. He will likely have to play in another U23 game or two before coming into the first-team squad.

Lampard's faith in James led him to allow Davide Zappacosta to leave for Roma on loan over the summer as the club's new manager looks to promote the outstanding young talent.

Chelsea rejected an offer of £20 million ($22.4m) from Crystal Palace during the off-season for James as they are keen to show their faith in the homegrown star.

Antonio Rudiger and N'Golo Kante, meanwhile, are back in contention for Chelsea's away trip to Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday.

Rudiger has been out with a knee injury since late April and but is set to make his return following two matches with the club's U23 side.

Kante missed Chelsea's last two games with an ankle injury while he also sat out France's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains on the long-term injury list as he continues his conditioning work after his own Achilles tendon rupture in May.

Additional reporting from Carlo Garganese