The Chelsea players not away on international duty have returned to Cobham following some well-earned days off.

The final pause in domestic football this year precedes a busy run of games. The Blues play nine times in just over a month, and the work starts now.

There was good news with the sight of Malo Gusto and Levi Colwill out on the grass. The pair withdrew from the France Under-21 and England squads last week with minor injuries, but were fully involved in Monday afternoon’s session.

Elsewhere, Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku continued their rehabilitation work.

The duo have yet to make their competitive bow for the Blues, but Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful of having them available for selection soon.

Ahead of the Man City game, he said: ‘We hope that next week they will be involved with the team and we will assess day by day to see when they can start to play and help the team.'

One player who has been eased back into proceedings since the October international break is Reece James.

The skipper has started each of our past three games, and in an exclusive interview told us about the progress he has been making as he seeks a sustained spell in the team.

‘I haven’t felt this good in a long time,’ James said.

‘I definitely feel my strength and fitness building up again. Recently, I’ve been able to play consistently. I haven’t been able to play 90 minutes yet, but I’m training and playing hard, and pushing the limits every day to get back to my best level.’

Marc Cucurella has produced his best form in a Chelsea shirt in recent weeks. And although it has not earned him a recall to the Spanish national team, the defender believes the Blues have turned a corner.

‘We are creating good habits here, a good young team, and are starting to build something important,’ Cucurella said.

‘It’s not enough so far because we want to win every game but I think the way we are playing now is good.’

The Blues’ next assignment during a run of games against top teams comes at St James’ Park.

Newcastle are three places and four points above the Blues but have injury problems of their own, so Pochettino and his men will be hopeful of securing a victory in the North-East.

There is the very real possibility of a small piece of Chelsea history being made on Saturday. Should Thiago Silva feature, he will become the club’s oldest-ever outfield player.

A key reason for that longevity is the work he puts in at the training ground and at home, and there is no sign of Thiago letting up yet!