(Reuters) – Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has not recovered from an ankle injury and will miss Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Sheffield United, manager Frank Lampard said on Friday.
The 28-year-old missed the 3-2 victory over promoted Norwich City last weekend and was not called up by France manager Didier Deschamps for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.
“Kante is not fit. It’s a continuation of his ankle problem. He won’t be travelling with the French squad either,” Lampard told a news conference.
“I had a conversation with Deschamps and we both agreed it was the best thing for him, so let’s try and get him fit over the break.
“It’s a setback, but my focus is on making sure he’s okay. He’s had four years of constant football at an incredibly high level, energy level, output level. We have to get it right.”
Spain forward Pedro, who suffered a hamstring problem in the pre-match warm-up at Norwich, is expected to return to fitness following the international break.
First-choice central defender Antonio Rudiger has been on the sidelines since suffering a knee injury last season and is edging closer to full match fitness.
Victory at Carrow Road was Chelsea’s first under new manager Lampard and the former England international said a weight had been lifted from their shoulders.
“It certainly helped, not just me but the staff as well to get the first win. We have a huge uplift in that and there’s a lot to work on. We can’t rest on that win,” Lampard added.
The former England international is well aware of the tactical strengths of Chris Wilder’s United side, having faced them in the Championship (second-tier) while managing Derby County last season.
The Blades have four points from three games but were beaten by Leicester City last time out.
“They’ve started well. I was very impressed with them last season, the job Chris has done can’t be under-appreciated,” Lampard added.
“I look forward to going up against them… (tactics) is where they caught the eye last season and I enjoyed the battle. It gives you a lot of threats.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)