N’Golo Kante has played just three games since the end of August as he’s continued to battle a variety of minor-ish soft tissue injuries. The latest of those is one he picked up on international duty, just to make things even more annoying.
While Chelsea have managed to put together a good run of results in his absence, winning seven in a row before last night’s oopsie against Manchester United in the League Cup, Kante’s absence is beginning to be truly felt, if by nothing else than an extreme lack of rotation in the midfield. Jorginho leads the team in minutes (more than Azpi or Kepa!), while more often than not, he’s been partnered with the only other fit midfielder. Probably not an ideal situation in any regard.
Of course, Kante provides so much more than just rotation relief. Getting him back to full fitness would instantly improve Chelsea’s midfield, and that’s before we consider that he’s already scored two (2!) goals as well (i.e. more than all the other midfielders combined, from open play). Unsurprisingly, Lampard is hopeful of some good news in that regard soon.
“He is hopefully going to join in training in the next two or three days. Hopefully he will be back before the international break.
“I would have liked to have given Jorginho and Kovacic a rest tonight because of the work they are putting in. I couldn’t because of N’Golo, Ross and Ruben is long term. I couldn’t make those changes I wanted to but it is what it is I suppose.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea are back in action on Saturday, with a short trip up to Watford, then have two big home games against Ajax in the Champions League and Crystal Palace. The schedule after the international break looks daunting, starting with back-to-back away days at Manchester City and Valencia, which makes winning the remaining three games before the break all the more imperative. Having Kante back would certainly be helpful.