Games are coming thick and fast these days. Chelsea head over to Selhurst Park tomorrow night to play against Crystal Palace in what promises to be another high stakes London Derby.
It will be Chelsea’s fifth match in a row in all competitions on just three-days rest, and the sixth overall since the first match of the Restart, which was just 16 days ago. Palace are of course in a similar situation, having played just one fewer game in that span (no FA Cup for them).
Despite managers having the option of using five substitutions per game, it's become challenging for players to recover in time for back-to-back games and thus run the risk of getting injured. Case in point: N’Golo Kanté, who’s picked up a hamstring injury after not missing a single minute of Chelsea action since the Restart. He’s joined by Mateo Kovačić and Fikayo Tomori, and it sounds like all three will miss this weekend’s match as well (Sheffield United, away) in addition to tomorrow night’s.
"Kante won’t be in the squad. He has a low-level hamstring injury. We’re hoping it’ll be a week or so. I would expect we’ll be very lucky to have him for Sheffield United.
"[Mateo] Kovacic trained with us today, he’s not ready for this game, hopefully the next. [Fikayo] Tomori is still not ready. He had a small setback in training so hopefully next week."
- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
In better injury news, Callum Hudson-Odoi returned to action on Saturday, playing the last quarter hour against Watford for his first appearance since the Restart. But as with other players returning from injury, his reintegration will be slow and steady, especially as the players currently playing in his position have been Chelsea’s best players.
The challenge is similar though not nearly as pressing for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who continues to come up to speed after over a year without competitive football thanks to his Achilles tear.
"For Ruben this period has been great for him to get fit but reality is next season will be one he is really firing. That’s not to say he won’t be contributing now.
"Callum the same but he needs to work hard daily in training and when he gets his opportunities really show input in games. We’re seeing what Christian Pulisic and Willian are doing. Callum needs to show something similar. They can make impacts in their own ways."
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
That said, with injuries in midfield and the wingers having accumulated more than their fair share of minutes, there will be opportunities for both CHO and RLC to step up and make an impact even this season.