Chelsea will be without a key trio as the Premier League returns tomorrow, with Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rüdiger, and N’Golo Kanté all set to miss out and probably continue to miss out for a bit longer — it’s unclear how much longer for the latter two, but for seemingly somewhat frail Andreas, it’s going to be a couple more weeks, as confirmed by Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard in Friday’s press conference.
“Kovačić had a knock on his thigh but has trained the last couple of days, so is in contention. Ross [Barkley] is fine. Andreas has a hamstring injury that will probably see him out for the next two weeks.
”Rüdiger is training outside with the physios, which is a progression for him. He has had a tough injury, stop-start which has been tough for everybody. But he is outside, which is positive. A bit of work for him to be done for match fitness, but it is positive for us that he is outside.”
But as concerning as those may be — especially the continuing absence of Rüdiger, who’s played just 45 minutes all season — none of them are as frustrating as N’Golo Kanté’s series of unfortunate injuries, the latest of which he suffered while warming up for France’s first game this international break, against Iceland.
To make matters worse, France did not release the midfielder back to Chelsea, but instead gave him a fitness test and then had him sit on the bench for the game against Turkey for absolutely no reason. It’s this latter bit that has gotten Lampard rather upset.
“Before the international break, I know Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Olivier Giroud and that was obviously quite light-hearted and I get it, we all have our selection problems and he had his in the two games.
”But the Kante one was not a laughing matter because we communicated before the last international break because he was injured so couldn’t go, let’s think what benefits the player, he didn’t go, we both agreed on that. That’s how things should work.
”After the first game when he pulled out, he then had a fitness test the day before the second game, it was clear that he couldn’t play. He then sat on the bench on the evening of the game, so that’s not communication, so it’s not such a laughing matter I suppose.”
I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the Hundred Years’ War was started for similar reasons, when Philip VI and Edward III had a miscommunication over a bit of land and BOOM, England and France never got along again and half the continent got wiped out by the Black Death.
But like Lampard says, this is no joking matter. (Even Deschamps’ Giroud comments were joking only on the surface — a lot of truth is said in jest, as they say.) Kanté’s massively important for both Chelsea and France, but only one of those teams actually pay his salary. And as much as (international) participation may be important to a player, his own physical well being should always take precedence. One would think the two teams would want to work together as much as possible over an issue like this, but it appears we’re not on the same page. And that’s a problem.
“I think that probably could have been handled better for sure. Our doctors were speaking and there were some times when things weren’t coming back to us when I would expect them to come back — that’s what I mean about communication. Even though we joked about the communication from the time before, that was much better to deal with it, as opposed to not.
“We got a player back a bit later. I understand when players are on international duty, they are their player as such but it was quite clear he wasn’t fit to play. From our point of view we would have wanted him back to work on him but it’s been and gone and as with every international player I will try and have open lines of communication with every manager for both our sakes.
”Kante, for instance, the first squad, nobody would have benefited from him going – me, him or France. We have to think about the long-term and the care of the player as well so that’s sometime a bit of a grey area.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Just another reason to cancel international football.
Get well soon, N’Golo!