Antonio Conte to assess Kenedy's Chelsea future after return from loan
LONDON -- Kenedy has returned from an unsuccessful loan spell at Watford and will be assessed at Cobham before a final decision is made on whether he leaves again in January, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has said.
Watford manager Walter Mazzarri confirmed on Monday that Kenedy had returned to Chelsea, a day after the 20-year-old had been seen in attendance at Stamford Bridge for the Blues' 1-0 win over West Brom.
Kenedy made just one substitute appearance in five months under Mazzarri, who said that he had been unable to properly evaluate the Brazilian due to persistent injuries. He will continue his rehabilitation at Cobham, and Conte says he is yet to decide whether to send the youngster back out on loan.
"There was this situation because Kenedy wasn't playing with Watford so, for this reason, the best decision was for him to come back and stay with us, working with us, and evaluate him this month and then take the best decision for him," Conte said, before adding: "To stay with us, or go on loan another time."
Kenedy joined Chelsea from Fluminense in the summer of 2015 and became more of a regular contributor under interim manager Guus Hiddink during the second half of last season, making 20 appearances in all competitions and scoring two goals, before being deemed surplus to requirements by Conte during preseason.
Another youngster struggling for first-team minutes is academy prospect Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 20-year-old has made just three appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season, and Conte says he will speak to the club's hierarchy before taking the best decision for the midfielder's development.
"I'm sure that Ruben has great potential, and I think it's important to show this, to improve a lot on different aspects," Conte said of Loftus-Cheek. "Now he's in our squad. This season, he had a few injuries. But now he's in good form and I count on him.
"There will be a moment when I speak with my club and take the best decision, but I count on him [for now] because I think he has good potential."
Speculation continues to regarding the future of Cesc Fabregas, who lost his starting place to the returning Nemanja Matic against West Brom despite producing an impressive performance in Chelsea's victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Asked if he could guarantee that Fabregas will still be a Chelsea player beyond January, Conte replied: "In football, in my experience, it's very difficult to guarantee always something, so this is difficult. But Cesc is an important player for us. He played a key match against Manchester City, and played very well.
"In the last match [against West Brom] he came on very well during the game. Tomorrow I have still to decide the starting XI [for Sunderland], but Cesc is always a good choice for me. He is an important player and in the squad of Chelsea. Now this is the reality."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.