At long last, N’Golo Kanté made his preseason debut yesterday, playing the final 20 minutes against Borussia Mönchengladbach, and immediately injecting a sense of calmness and safety into the midfield, even if that may not have been apparent in the actual football on display.
We had been eagerly awaiting Kanté’s return to match action, especially after he seemed to suffer a series of minor setbacks that kept him restricted to fitness training by himself rather than any contact work with the rest of the first-team. But he seems to have gotten over that hurdle now, and should be in the final stretch of full recovery from the knee injury that has been bothering him since the build-up to the Europa League final.
But unlike then, new head coach Frank Lampard has made it patently clear that Kanté will not be rushed back, even if that means missing the first game(s) of the season.
“That was always the plan [to play 20 minutes]. He’s working a little bit now and it was just to give him the feeling of match time as he hasn’t been able to do that yet as it’s an awkward injury. I just wanted him to feel it and us to see it as you cannot replicate it unless you do it. It was a good opportunity to do that for him and we’ll work hard on getting him fit.”
“Who knows if he’ll be ready for next week or not, but we’ll work hard for that. We also have to be a bit careful as he’s played so many games over the past three seasons and we don’t want to rush him back if it’s going to be a negative. We’ll do our best to get him back.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
We used to joke that not only is the ever-present N’Golo indefatigable, he’s practically an indestructible robot. Alas, he turns out to be human after all. But that just means we have to love him and take care him even better!