N'Golo Kante may return for Chelsea in Sunday's crunch Premier League clash against Manchester United, but boss Antonio Conte will not take any unnecessary risks.
Influential midfielder Kante has not played domestic football since the 1-0 defeat against Manchester City at the end of September after injuring his hamstring on international duty for France.
Chelsea have lost twice in the six competitive matches he has missed – including a poor showing in a 3-0 Champions League loss at Roma in midweek.
Conte confirmed that he will take a late check on Kante's fitness, but does not want to bring him back too soon.
"He's progressing well, we have also tomorrow and then I [will take] the best decision for him, for the team, but for sure N'Golo is progressing well and I'm very happy for this," Conte told a pre-match media briefing.
"We know we're talking about an important player.
"Honestly, if I wanted to risk him I could do this against Bournemouth or Roma, instead I waited, I found myself a lot of patience to find best way for N'Golo.
"It means if I decide to put him in the game he will be ready, otherwise I repeat I could do this against Bournemouth or Roma."
Antonio Conte reports N'Golo Kante is progressing well and after tomorrow, the decision will be made on his involvement versus Man United. — Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 3, 2017
Conte will go head-to-head with former Blues boss Jose Mourinho, with whom he has been involved in several verbal barbs this term.
But the Italian, whose side are four points adrift of United in the table, was in no mood to discuss their personal relationship and disputed that Mourinho would be in the mood for the revenge after the Red Devils were beaten 4-0 at Stamford Bridge last term.
"I think it's not important the relationship between the coaches," he added. "You have to respect the job of the other coach.
"I don't like if I have to speak about the situation. I have respect for the job, then he's an opponent, I'm an opponent for him, same after the game. It's not important, I have respect for his job, he has respect for mine.
"I don't forget that they won 2-0 in the second game at home. I think every coach, every player, every team wants to win, not for revenge but you need to win."