James has only made one appearance since being appointed new Blues skipper this season, having missed the last nine games across all competitions with a hamstring injury.

The 23-year-old also picked up a suspension while he was sidelined for directing abusive language towards a match official during a confrontation in the tunnel following Chelsea’s Premier League defeat to Aston Villa last month. That ban has already been served.

It had been reported this week that James had suffered a setback on his road to recovery and had retreated to individual training instead. But Chelsea shared on social media a picture of the player in training gear, smiling, with the caption: “Out on the grass.”

James himself also shared a version of the same picture alongside the message: “Against all odds.”

There is no clear indication as to his fitness level, particularly with the Arsenal clash only two days away, but being out on grass is always an important milestone in any injury recovery process.

James has often struggled with injuries in recent years. Ankle trouble affected him in 2019/20, while he missed a number of games in 2021/22 because of a hamstring issue, and was limited to only 16 Premier League appearances last season as a result of knee and hamstring problems.

Chelsea as a whole have been hit hard by player absences this season, with out of favour left-back Marc Cucurella filling in at right-back for the last two Premier League games because James understudy Malo Gusto was suspended for a red card in September.

Gusto is at least back in contention for the Arsenal game after completing his ban, which also covered the Carabao Cup third round win over Brighton.

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