Christian Pulisic will be available for Chelsea's crucial Premier League clash with Tottenham on Sunday but whether Frank Lampard opts to throw the American international in at the deep end from the off is another matter indeed.
Pulisic has not played for Chelsea since limping out of the warm-up for his side's 3-0 win at Burnley on October 31 but will be available for selection at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. What was initially viewed as a relatively minor hamstring issue has ultimately sidelined the 22-year-old for nearly a month and in that intervening period much has changed for Lampard.
It also means there is plenty of catching up for Pulisic to do, as his manager seemed to acknowledge. Asked whether the forward was fit enough to play a London derby from the outset, Lampard said: "Ready to start is a question mark, it is hard to gauge match fitness."
Pulisic last donned a Chelsea shirt in a 4-0 win over Krasnodar on October 28, replacing Callum Hudson-Odoi in the second half of a match that was also Hakim Ziyech's first start since joining from Ajax. Such has been the speed with which the Moroccan international has adapted to life at Stamford Bridge that it is hard to envisage how his place in the starting line-up will be given away any time soon.
In nine games for his new club the new signing has two goals and three assists, averaging a direct contribution to the scoresheet every 95 minutes. Playing off the right wing role that Pulisic had predominantly featured in for Chelsea this season, Ziyech's left foot opens numerous avenues for Chelsea to attack and he has already built up a prodigious understanding with Reece James.
Those two make for as dangerous a crossing duo as there is in the Premier League, the right-back capable of whipping in deliveries from the byline whilst Ziyech moves inwards and fires passes towards the back post. With Chelsea set to be attacking a depleted Tottenham backline without Toby Alderweireld's aerial prowess on Sunday it seems eminently plausible that Lampard will look to fire crosses in from the flanks.
The most natural alternative position for Pulisic might be the left-sided role where he played the overwhelming majority of his minutes last season. Set aside for a moment Hudson-Odoi, one of Chelsea's best performers in their win over Rennes in midweek, and there is still the matter of Timo Werner.
The German international shuffled out to the left wing when Pulisic limped off the Turf Moor pitch and has occupied that berth to great success since. Five matches have brought four goals and an assist whilst also opening an avenue for Tammy Abraham, another who has seized his chance with three goals and an assist.
Add to the mix Olivier Giroud, who Chelsea likely must either find minutes for or lose in January, as well as the in-form Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, who has recovered from COVID-19 and played 19 minutes against Rennes.
Mount in particular has played a significant proportion of his games from a left wing berth and against a side like Spurs, who are expected to deploy an attack-minded right flank of Serge Aurier and Steven Bergwijn, a trusty lieutenant like the England international seems a more natural choice than Pulisic.
Such is the harsh reality that faces Pulisic and the rest of his team-mates in Chelsea's exorbitantly assembled frontline. When the likes of Abraham and Ziyech are waiting in the wings a starting spot is easy to lose and hard to regain.