N’Golo Kante has struggled mightily for playing time under new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Not because of any aversion to his services by the new boss, but instead due to a lack of fitness this season as nagging injuries continue to pile up for the French midfielder.
After Kante was a late scratch ahead of France’s eventual 1-0 win over Iceland in Euro 2020 qualification, there were yet more concerns that the 28-year-old would again be forced to the sidelines for an undetermined stretch of time.
“He felt a pain in the adductor muscle,” said France head coach Didier Deschamps after the match. “He had a feeling where he did not feel comfortable to play. ‘I made the decision [to pull him from the squad], because maybe it could get even worse.”
Thankfully for Kante, Chelsea fans, and neutrals hoping to see one of the best midfielders in the game settle in to a consistent role at Stamford Bridge, Deschamps gave some good news on his immediate future in the aftermath of the win.
“I do not think it’s too serious for NG, but I do not have an answer tonight,” Deschamps predicted.
In fact, Deschamps didn’t rule Kante out for contention in France’s big game against Turkey on Monday in Saint-Denis. The head man was even in a jovial mood after the victory, taking a harmless shot at Lampard and joking that he could parlay with the Chelsea boss. “Lampard asked me not to pick Kante at the last rally. If it’s still that way, maybe I’ll call him later to tell him it would be nice if you play Olivier Giroud a little bit.”
For Kante, hearing his injury could be shaken off is a massive positive. The midfielder has appeared in just four Premier League games this season with three starts. He missed three games with an ankle problem and also sitting out a game with a hamstring issue suffered in training. He has yet to appear in an international match since March, and missed out on summer action thanks to knee injury, including a disappointing 2-0 loss to Turkey in Antalya.