N'Golo Kante says he rebuffed interest from Paris Saint-Germain because he is happy at Chelsea.

Ligue 1 champions PSG have long been linked with the France international and reportedly tried to sign him following his impressive displays at the 2018 World Cup.

The move never materialised and Kante, considered one of the Premier League's best midfielders, is now in his fourth season at Stamford Bridge.

He signed a new five-year contract with the club in November 2018 and has no plans to leave.

"Sometimes you don't really know where you want to go, but you know what you already have," Kante told Canal+ when asked about PSG's interest.

"I knew I was at Chelsea and I felt good at Chelsea. On top of that, it was a footballing decision.

"I felt good in London and I felt happy in this project and therefore I am happy to stay here."

Kante joined Chelsea in 2016 following a season with Leicester City, where he won the first of his two Premier League titles.

The 28-year-old scored for the third time this season in the Blues' 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.

If winning ugly truly is a mark of champions, Manchester City's Premier League title challenge is very much alive.

After losing to Liverpool two weeks ago and then watching yet another late winner from Jurgen Klopp's relentless Reds at Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday, City's task against Chelsea was straightforward: don't give the leaders any more reason to believe.

Pep Guardiola's message before the game was simple, too, as the task of hauling in Liverpool was laid bare: "We have two options – give up or don't give up." Against Chelsea, they flirted with the former before choosing the latter.

Quite what the message to Benjamin Mendy was is another matter, though, and one that could have deeper implications when the title race enters its more decisive months.

Chelsea, of course, came to Etihad Stadium in buoyant mood - quite the contrast to the way they left it last season after a 6-0 humiliation of a kind rarely experienced, certainly since Roman Abramovich laid down roots in London. But this is a different Chelsea: a team playing with few expectations, bursting with confidence and chasing an eighth away win in a row in all competitions for the first time.

More to the point, there was a plan: get after Mendy. Not included against Liverpool for "tactical reasons", Mendy was part of the Chelsea blueprint from the off. Willian attacked relentlessly down the right and N'Golo Kante often joined him. With Raheem Sterling unwilling to track back, Rodri was dragged to the left to provide cover.

That was how Chelsea struck.

Mateo Kovacic played a one-two with Jorginho on halfway, and Kante set off, a diminutive whirlwind surging through the middle of the sky blue shirts onto the Kovacic pass. Rodri, out of position, did not track him; Fernandinho, emergency centre-back again, could not. Kante finished well under pressure from Mendy, who had belatedly realised the danger. It was Chelsea's second and final shot on target.

Chelsea deserved their lead. Beating City requires a careful plan and the hope of an off-day from Guardiola's men and, boy, they had that in the first half-hour. Kante has not been transformed by Frank Lampard - nobody should forget how Maurizio Sarri was often pilloried for playing the France star further forward - but he has embraced this idea of unleashing the former Leicester City man. In terms of average positions, Kante ended the first half the furthest forward of any Chelsea player. He was a weapon deployed with astute precision.

City, meanwhile, were alarmingly poor. Whatever the end result, Guardiola teams can normally be guaranteed to have more possession and run that little bit harder than their opponents. After 45 minutes, they had had 45 per cent of the ball and been outsprinted 56-50.

And yet, they were winning.

Kevin De Bruyne was wayward with his early passing but it soon became clear that, if it was going to happen for City, it would happen through him. It duly did 29 minutes in, De Bruyne dummying Jorginho and finding the net via the well-placed studs of Kurt Zouma, all after Fernandinho waded back into more comfortable midfield waters to steal possession.

For all their own problems at left-back, City identified the same weakness in Chelsea, a team who, exciting as they are, have kept only three clean sheets in the league under Lampard. Emerson Palmieri was tasked with dealing with Riyad Mahrez and simply never managed it. When he asked for help from Kovacic, they were equally obliging in allowing Mahrez to cut into the box on his left foot and finish in supreme style.

Mahrez was the main threat after the break, a clever corner giving Joao Cancelo a chance to score before a brilliant Kepa Arrizabalaga save denied him a second goal of his own. He would have had a late assist for Sterling but for a correct VAR intervention for offside.

A Chelsea comeback never really looked on and City had control once Ilkay Gundogan was introduced, even if they ended with the lowest possession figure, 46.7 per cent, that Guardiola has seen in 381 league matches in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

They are back into third, nine points behind Liverpool, with a slight hop in their step if not quite a spring. Never mind the gap, as David Silva said on Friday; City have overturned them before.

But there is a nagging doubt about Mendy, about how he impacts the team as a whole and whether he is worth the gamble, that is more difficult to ignore.

Benjamin Mendy has been handed a recall for France's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania.

The Manchester City full-back was given the nod over Real Madrid counterpart Ferland Mendy when France's squad was announced on Thursday.

Coach Didier Deschamps named a 23-man selection which includes Kylian Mbappe, who has not featured for his country since June amid injury problems.

Similar issues have hindered Benjamin Mendy, though to a much greater extent, the former Monaco star having required knee surgery during his stop-start time at the Etihad Stadium.

Benjamin Mendy last appeared at international level in the Nations League last September.

Nabil Fekir, who was absent for the previous two international matches, also returns, and N'Golo Kante is included.

Injury meant midfielder Kante could not feature in the previous international break, though he did not return to Chelsea until after the second fixture, frustrating Frank Lampard.

There is no place in the squad for Barcelona duo Ousmane Dembele or Samuel Umtiti, while Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and Lucas Hernandez are all sidelined. 

France sit joint-top of Group H alongside Turkey, boasting a four-point lead over third-placed Iceland with two matches remaining.

Moldova visit the Stade de France on November 14, and France conclude their qualifying campaign in Albania on November 17.
 

France squad: Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea); N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed N'Golo Kante is available for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Ajax.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

After missing five games for the Blues, he returned to training on Monday and is in consideration for the visit of Dutch champions Ajax to Stamford Bridge.

Lampard told a media conference: "He is in the squad. It looks like the injuries are clearing up."

The Chelsea boss, however, was unable to confirm when Antonio Rudiger might return to first-team action.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

Chelsea are level with Ajax on six points at the top of Group H, with Valencia two points further back.

 

Frank Lampard denied Antonio Rudiger is fit to return for Chelsea, revealing the Germany centre-back is set to see a consultant on Monday.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

The 26-year-old was widely reported as saying he was "itching" to play after returning to fitness following the groin issue suffered against Wolves.

However, Lampard insisted Rudiger will not be available for Saturday's meeting with Watford and there is no timetable for his return.

"He's not fit. I saw the quotes, whether there was a miscommunication I don't know," said the Chelsea head coach.

"He's going to see a consultant on Monday because he's got an ongoing issue in the pelvic area. We'll have to wait for the appointment to see how long he'll be out. I was surprised by the quotes because he's not fit."

Lampard had more positive updates on N'Golo Kante and Ross Barkley, both of whom he said could "possibly" return to face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"Every player in the squad that's not available is disappointing but it comes with the territory. [Rudiger] and N'Golo have had a domino effect in injuries from last season," said Lampard. "N'Golo's close, he's working with the team now.

"Ross Barkley is still not quite right and he's another possibly answer, but he's not far away. Andreas Christensen is pretty much fit as well. It's the finishing touches now."

Watford are winless at the bottom of the Premier League this season but Lampard warned the Blues, who saw a run of seven straight victories end with a 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, against complacency.

Asked if the circumstances made the meeting with Watford more dangerous, Lampard replied: "Without a doubt. I'm very much of that mindset.

"First, I look at us, and since we've been on the winning run, the game became more dangerous because of the idea of overconfidence.

"We saw what Watford did last year and the personnel are very similar. We cannot underestimate a team that will be hurting because they haven't won for a while."

Frank Lampard is pleased with Chelsea's progress since a heavy opening defeat to Manchester United as the two teams prepare to meet again on Wednesday.

Lampard's first competitive game in charge of Chelsea ended in a painful 4-0 loss at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the Premier League season in August.

The Blues endured a slow start to the campaign but have since found their feet, winning their last seven matches in all competitions ahead of the EFL Cup clash with United at Stamford Bridge.

"It feels a million miles," Lampard said at Tuesday's news conference when reflecting on the last time the clubs faced each other.

"I'm not disregarding it - they hurt us four times in a game we played particularly well in.

"We're improving, that's the main thing. It's what we've been striving for and it's pleasing to see good signs.

"I try not to listen to too much talk about the future. If we do that there would be problems. It's nice we're working in a good direction."

Chelsea's current winning run started with a 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby Town in the last round and Lampard is aiming for EFL Cup silverware with his young group of players.

"We'll target all the trophies," he said. "We want to win every game but we're up against a top opponent tomorrow. Every game you have to give everything to try and win.

"A day at Wembley should never be taken likely. But not just for the young boys. We'll give it our all."

While Chelsea have improved following a sluggish opening to Lampard's reign, United have struggled for consistency and are seven points behind their next opponents in the Premier League.

Lampard will rotate his squad following the 4-2 win at Burnley last time out, though he confirmed N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger remain absent for the midweek fixture.

"I don't want to talk about United too much, but since the first game our points total has been nice," he said. "It's not worth focusing on United other than to say they are full of top players. People shouldn't be too critical of other clubs.

"In terms of changes, I've got to be aware that we haven't changed that much. This game may see opportunities for players who haven't been getting minutes.

"I wanted to play every game as a player but on this side, you see things slightly differently. Demands on players are more. I won't take this game lightly even if I make changes.

"If players do step out of the line-up with a view to the coming weeks it's about the big picture. I understand how players are, but those who start will give everything and those who don't will support them hugely. 

"It helps they are playing well. That's the nice feeling around at the minute. They are playing and I have to take that into account about rest."

Chelsea have no timeframe for N'Golo Kante's return from a groin injury, with Frank Lampard stating they are taking a measured approach to restoring his fitness.

Kante has struggled with a series of injuries since April, the latest of which he sustained during the warm-up ahead of France's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

The midfielder sat out last weekend's 1-0 home win over Newcastle United and Wednesday's Champions League victory against Ajax and will not be available for the trip to Burnley on Saturday.

Lampard has no intention of rushing Kante back because he does not want him to suffer another setback in his quest to return to regular action.

"N'Golo won't be ready, he's training on his own with some physical work because he's had some physical issues. We need to get him right now because he's been in and out this season," said the head coach, who confirmed Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Ross Barkley remain sidelined.

"I just want him fit. He's played a lot of football for the past four years, he's had a big injury off the back of last year. Now it's time to take a small step back and get his fitness up.

"He had a bad injury, he hadn't played since April. This is the fall-out of last season's injury for us. We've lost Ruben, we've lost Rudi and we've lost Kante."

A transfer ban has forced Lampard to utilise Chelsea's academy products, with Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori making the most of the opportunities handed to them.

Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who in September returned from a serious Achilles injury, have signed new long-term contracts at Stamford Bridge and Lampard would like to see Abraham and Tomori follow suit.

"Of course I do [want them to stay], but that is out of my remit," said Lampard. "The club know I love the players.

"I brought them into the team this season and they are doing particularly well, but I leave contract situations to the club. They are playing really well and I want them to stay."

Chelsea are awaiting a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over their appeal against their two-window ban from signing players.

Lampard suggested the Blues would be open to improving the squad in January if the sanction is reduced.

"I don't know if we can, it's not in my hands. I wouldn't want to speculate … we're just concentrating on what's ahead of us in terms of the squad we've got now," he said.

"A club like Chelsea will always be looking at improving the squad if there's a chance of bringing players in, but at the moment I don't know the answer."

Chelsea will be without Ross Barkley, N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Ajax, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

The Blues face Ajax in Amsterdam having claimed three points from their first two games and they will be well aware of the test Erik ten Hag's men pose.

Injuries will make Chelsea's challenge even trickier against opponents who have won successive games at the start of the group stage, as Barkley, Kante and Rudiger are all absent from the squad.

Kante suffered a groin injury on international duty with France, Barkley sustained a "nasty" ankle problem against Newcastle United on Saturday and Rudiger is still out with a pelvic issue.

Lampard expressed concern for Barkley after the Newcastle win, though he expects the England midfielder to be back in training this week.

"They're obviously all not here," Lampard told reporters. "Ross will hopefully be fit to train by the time we get back on Thursday.

"Rudiger has trained with us today [Tuesday], which is part of a small programme to have him fit. He's going to be out of contention for the weekend but hopefully soon [he'll be back].

"N'Golo similarly, he's training but we'll see how he is for the weekend. Not clear yet on that one."

Chelsea head into the match having won five on the spin in all competitions, with much of the squad hitting form.

Lampard has an abundance of talent on the flanks in particular and has recently been encouraged by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who starred at the weekend and could make his first Champions League start.

"I think he is [ready] but so are other players," Lampard added. "There comes my problem for selection for games because I have a competitive squad of players that some are fresh to the Champions League, some have been before.

"Isolating Callum, I thought his performance against Newcastle showed huge signs of what we want to see. We know the talent there. It's great his contract is signed now, weeks ago.

"I thought the problems he gave Newcastle consistently were things that I really want to see from him, which are: end product, delivery into the box, getting at people and running behind people. All those things are what we all know Callum has as a young talent.

"There's no guarantees there, but I think for all the young players, the extra level that the Champions League is – in terms of detail, focus, concentration for 90 minutes, making the most of tiny moments – will be a test for all the young players, not just Callum."

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."

Antoine Griezmann urged France to immediately turn their focus towards Monday's date with Turkey after beating Iceland 1-0 in Reykjavik.

The Barcelona forward won the penalty Olivier Giroud converted midway through the second half to secure three points, inflicting a first home loss in a year on their hosts. 

World champions France stumbled to a 2-0 defeat against Turkey in June, well beaten in Konya and condemned by critics who had come to expect success. 

It remains the only blip in their campaign and France will book a place at Euro 2020 if they avenge that rare loss by beating Turkey at the Stade de France. 

Griezmann told TF1: "We've got an important match at home now. We suffered over there [in Turkey], so we’ll need to prepare well for this match."

He fell dramatically for the penalty against Iceland, but replays showed Griezmann was impeded and France were well worth their success against a home side who offered little attacking threat but defended doughtily. 

"It was very difficult, a really hard match," Griezmann added. "We needed to take the three points and now we have an important game coming up at home." 

Turkey and France sit on 18 points at the top of Group H, six clear of third-placed Iceland, meaning both are on the brink of qualification for next year's finals. 

Didier Deschamps was satisfied with his team's display as they followed up a 4-0 home win over Iceland in March with a more attritional away success. 

He told TF1: "Firstly that's a victory here, it wasn't easy. We had the chance to get a second, they've been good on set-pieces.  

"That was a man's match, there was commitment, we've responded by having a lot of the ball. We could have made it more comfortable by putting away the chances in the end. It's a good victory ahead of Monday's match." 

Asked about a pre-match knock that kept midfielder N'Golo Kante out of the game, with Moussa Sissoko his late replacement, Deschamps said: "I don't think it's too serious for 'NG'." 

As for whether Kante could face Turkey, Deschamps added: "I do not have the answer tonight."

N'Golo Kante was withdrawn from the France team to play Iceland because of injury prior to kick-off in Reykjavik.

The Chelsea midfielder had been named in the starting XI and was all set to play in the Euro 2020 qualifying match before reportedly suffering a muscle strain.

It meant Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko came into Didier Deschamps' line-up for the Group H fixture.

Deschamps had earlier surprised some observers by choosing Lucas Digne at left-back, when Lucas Hernandez had been tipped to recover from a knee problem to start.

Olivier Giroud was the focus point in attack, supported by Antoine Griezmann, with Kylian Mbappe on the injured list along with midfield playmaker Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper and regular captain of Les Bleus.

Kante could also miss France’s qualifier against Turkey on Monday, and Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will hope the former Leicester man is fit for the Blues' next Premier League clash, their home game against Newcastle on Saturday, October 19.

The 28-year-old has started just three of Chelsea's opening eight league games after being troubled by an ankle injury in the early weeks of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be concerned that one more significant defeat could see him sacked as Manchester United manager.

Although Ed Woodward has given his backing to the former striker and insisted the club has faith in their longer-term plan, it seems the loss to Newcastle United on Sunday has caused particular concern.

AC Milan, meanwhile, could make a change in the dugout on Tuesday, while Real Madrid are considering a Chelsea midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – SOLKSJAER FACING SACK IF UNITED LOSE HANDSOMELY TO LIVERPOOL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not survive at Manchester United if they suffer a significant defeat to Liverpool.

The Daily Mail and the Mirror claim executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was very concerned by the manner of the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, despite giving the manager public support.

It is suggested Woodward could choose to dismiss Solskjaer if United are beaten heavily by league leaders Liverpool on October 20 - much as Jose Mourinho was sacked after a 3-1 loss at Anfield last year.

 

ROUND-UP

- United are in desperate need of goals but one of their targets, Moussa Dembele, could be stolen away from Lyon by Everton for £40million in January, according to Football Insider.

AC Milan are another major club ready to make a change in the dugout. Gianluca Di Marzio claims the Rossoneri could replace Marco Giampaolo with former Inter boss Stefano Pioli as early as Tuesday.

- Inter, meanwhile, are plotting a bid for out-of-favour Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, according to Calciomercato.com.

Real Madrid appear to have turned a corner under Zinedine Zidane but the former France star still wants a new midfielder. Sport say he has sanctioned a possible January bid for Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.

- In France, Sylvinho paid the price for Lyon's poor form - particularly Sunday's derby defeat to Saint-Etienne - and the Ligue 1 side are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino as his replacement, according to Soccer Link.

Chelsea brushed aside Southampton 4-1 at St Mary's Stadium on Sunday to register back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time under Frank Lampard.

In-form striker Tammy Abraham broke the deadlock with his eighth league goal of the campaign to join Sergio Aguero at the top of the competition's scoring charts. 

Mason Mount and N'Golo Kante were also on target, either side of Danny Ings pulling one back, as Lampard's men netted three first-half goals for the second successive Premier League away trip.

Substitute Michy Batshuayi scored the only goal of a low-key second half to seal the win for Chelsea, who rise up to fifth in the table.

Abraham lifted Callum Hudson-Odoi's straight pass over a hesitant Angus Gunn to give Chelsea the lead 17 minutes in, the strike being awarded by goal-line technology despite Maya Yoshida's acrobatic clearance.

The visitors doubled their tally seven minutes later as Mount took Willian's pass in his stride and fired past Gunn, but Southampton were given a lifeline when Ings got in front of Kurt Zouma to divert the ball home.

Chelsea's two-goal lead was restored before half-time, though, as Kante's long-range effort deflected off Jan Bednarek past a wrong-footed Gunn. 

Ings rounded Kepa Arrizabalaga but could not find a way past covering Chelsea midfielder Jorginho on the line, while up the other end Gunn kept out Abraham and Hudson-Odoi, who was making his first league start of the season.

But Southampton ultimately offered little in the way of an attacking threat after the interval, with Chelsea instead adding to their tally a minute from time through Batshuayi's composed finish after he had exchanged passes with fellow substitute Christian Pulisic.

 

What does it mean? Lampard's Chelsea building momentum

Chelsea started the season slowly but they head into the October international break on the back of a four-game winning streak in all competitions.

Successive victories in the Premier League sees them move level with fourth-placed Leicester City and they do not face a side currently above them until travelling to Manchester City in late November.

Abraham maintains impressive form

In the week he was called up by England, Abraham scored his ninth goal of the season in all competitions - the joint-most of any Premier League player, alongside Raheem Sterling.

Southampton's defending was poor - and the less said about Gunn's part in the first two Chelsea goals the better - but Abraham deserves credit for continuing to take his chances when they fall to him.

Chelsea's defence still fragile

Southampton got in behind Chelsea on a number of occasions in the first half, most notably for Ings' goal after four visiting players failed to stop the run of Yan Valery.

In the 69 games that Lampard has managed between Derby County and Chelsea in all competitions, his teams have only kept a clean sheet 15 times.

What's next?

Chelsea host Newcastle United on October 19 when the Premier League returns, the same day struggling Southampton travel to Wolves.

Frank Lampard backed Tammy Abraham to score goals for England after the Chelsea striker was called up for the Three Lions' forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

England boss Gareth Southgate named Abraham along with Blues team-mates Fikayo Tomori and Ross Barkley in his squad and Lampard said all three players "have big smiles on their faces" after impressing for Chelsea.

Abraham has scored seven goals in seven Premier League appearances for Chelsea this season and also found the net in his side's 2-1 win at Lille in the Champions League.

Lampard, who scored 29 goals in 106 appearances for England, tipped the 22-year-old forward – who has two caps for the Three Lions – for success at international level, saying of his call-up: "I think it is well deserved.

"[He has been] scoring goals regularly for us and everybody knows that his form is very good. I think he has been in the equation for Gareth all season with the way that he has played.

"It is a natural progression for him. So I'm delighted. He is a proud lad, as he should be, proud to get a call up.

"I don't want to put too much on his shoulders, but step by step he has shown that he can score goals in the Championship twice, now in the Premier League.

"Naturally when he goes to the England squad he has the attributes to go there and be successful. It is another step for him but I am sure that he has the attitude to take that challenge of being a goalscorer for England."

Abraham is expected to start as Chelsea's Premier League campaign resumes at Southampton on Sunday, where Lampard's men hope to secure back-to-back top-flight victories for the first time this season.

Lampard said the club would monitor the progress of N'Golo Kante ahead of the match as the midfielder continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Kante played all 90 minutes of Chelsea's win at Lille in midweek but he has been restricted to just two Premier League starts during a disjointed season so far.

The Chelsea manager indicated Kante's place against the Saints is not guaranteed, saying: "That's something we will have to watch over the next 24 or 48 hours to make sure he is still on a semi-recovery, as they all are from the trip to Lille and the game.

"The fact he hasn't played much obviously. In terms of the injury, he is fine. There is no fall out from that from the game.

"It is just making sure he is fit and ready and that's a call for myself."

Didier Deschamps has joked Frank Lampard should consider playing Olivier Giroud more often for Chelsea in exchange for the France boss leaving N'Golo Kante out of his last squad.

Kante was recalled by Les Blues on Thursday for their upcoming qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey, having been overlooked for selection in September to recover from niggling hamstring and ankle injuries.

Deschamps revealed Lampard has previously spoken to him about not selecting the 28-year-old, who returned to action with 90 minutes against Lille on Wednesday.

However, the World Cup-winning coach wants the favour to be repaid, telling reporters at Thursday's news conference: "Lampard asked me not to pick Kante at the last break.

"If that's still the way I'm going to call him later to tell him it would be nice if you play Olivier Giroud a little bit!"

Giroud is Deschamps' preferred striker but has struggled to get a look in at club level, the 33-year-old playing just 100 minutes of Premier League football this season due to the form of Tammy Abraham.

Deschamps admitted Giroud's lack of playing time for Chelsea could work against him.

"I do not want to take away from what Olivier has done with us," said Deschamps. "He has put in some very good performances, not to mention that he is the third-best active French scorer. However, I hope his situation develops.

"Beyond his efficiency with us, it is a matter of rhythm too. He has already gone through spells where he has played less, but now it is not sufficient physically - he cannot be at his best."

Like Kante, Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is back in the France squad after missing the wins over Albania and Andorra last month because of a hamstring injury.

Mbappe has featured as a second-half substitute in PSG's last two matches after missing more than a month and Deschamps will take no risks over his fitness.

"Kylian is back from his first significant injury, so the worst is now behind him," said Deschamps. "I am not going to take risks with him, despite our two important matches.

"He has a match with PSG this weekend and then we will see his physical condition. Two 90-minute matches in three days is unlikely."

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