EPL

No laughing matter for Lampard as Kante set to miss Newcastle clash

By Sports Desk October 18, 2019

N'Golo Kante will miss Chelsea's Premier League clash with Newcastle United, with Frank Lampard expressing frustration he did not come back from international duty with France earlier.

Kante sustained a groin injury in the warm-up for France's Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Iceland and did not return to Chelsea until after Les Bleus' game with Turkey on Monday.

France coach Didier Deschamps had joked ahead of the qualifiers that Lampard could consider playing striker Olivier Giroud more often, having revealed the Chelsea boss had spoken to him about not selecting Kante.

However, while Lampard was able to see the funny side of that comment, he was far from amused with the way the world champions handled the situation around Kante's injury.

"Before the international break, Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Giroud and that was light-hearted and I get it. We all have our selection problems, he had his in the two games," Lampard told a news conference.

"But the Kante one was not a laughing matter because we communicated before the last international break, because he was injured he couldn't go.

"Let's think of what benefits [there are] to play, 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 he couldn't play. He then sat on the bench the evening of the game, so that's not communication.

"I understand that when a player is on international duty that they are their players, but it was clear that he wasn't fit."

While Kante will be reduced to the role of spectator for the visit of the Magpies, Lampard may be able to call on Mateo Kovacic in the midfield, though Andreas Christensen (hamstring) and Antonio Rudiger (groin) are out.

"Kovacic had a knock on his thigh but has trained the last couple of days so he's in contention," said Lampard.

"Andreas Christensen has got a hamstring injury which will see him out for the next two weeks.

"Rudiger is training outside with the physios, which is a progression for him. He had a tough injury with some stop-start [features], which has been unfortunate for everybody.

"But he's outside, it's positive - a bit of work to be done for him for match fitness but it's really positive for us that he's outside."

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