EPL

Kante has worked through injury nightmare, says Lampard

By Sports Desk July 06, 2020

Frank Lampard is optimistic N'Golo Kante's season-spanning injury struggles might be at an end, despite a hamstring strain ruling the midfielder out of the forthcoming Premier League games against Crystal Palace and Sheffield United.

Kante will miss out at Selhurst Park on Tuesday as the Blues look to take another step towards Champions League qualification, although Lampard described the setback as "low-level" with a one-week recuperation period.

The more severe knee injury the 29-year-old sustained on the eve last season's Europa League final win over Arsenal, where Kante completed 90 minutes with the help of a painkilling injection, is one that still rankles with Lampard, who has been without one of his most influential players for 11 of the 33 Premier League games so far this term.

"He had a pretty bad injury in the Europa League final. When we came back for pre-season I expected him to be, sort of, fit," the Chelsea boss explained.

"When I say expect, I wasn't sure what the situation was and it turned out he wasn't near fit with that injury.

"Then we end up with a slight domino effect that took us through the rest of the season, which means he played pretty much 50 per cent of the games before we went into lockdown.

"I'd like to think that we're through that patch and this injury now is pretty unrelated."

There will be little let up for Chelsea's players, who could yet have an FA Cup final assignment and their Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich – a 3-0 first-leg deficit makes progress to the final mini-tournament in Lisbon highly unlikely – to address in August before an expectedly quick turnaround for the 2020-21 campaign.

Lampard believes this period will show players the value of knowing their limits, suggesting the famously all-action Kante is receptive to tailoring his methods.

"The players have to be given a couple of weeks off at the end of this season, however the Premier League want to arrange the start of next – whether we're in the Champions League, how far into it or not," he said.

"[Kante] will use that little refreshment break, then work in pre-season. When you get a few injuries in your career, particularly when you're in your mid-20s, maybe you see things differently and you have to maintain yourself slightly differently.

"N'Golo is certainly buying into that so I think that will help too."

Kante's latest absence is likely to mean a return for Jorginho against Palace.

The Italy midfielder was a mainstay before lockdown, although he has been an unused substitute for Chelsea's past three Premier League games.

Nevertheless, Lampard insists he has no problem with Jorginho's efforts.

"Jorginho has to do nothing different," he said. "He trains well, he shows me that he's good for the group on and off the pitch. He's vice-captain of the club.

"There's nothing different, it's purely my choice at the moment, with what I see from the games in front of me, how I like the makeup of my midfield to be.

"Sometimes it's affected by the other players that are in that midfield, whether I think we need more defensive attributes in the game.

"He doesn't need to do anything. It's purely my choice."

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