Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has spoken of his disappointment that injured N’Golo Kanté didn’t return from international duty sooner, claiming it was ‘clear’ the 2018 World Cup winner wasn’t fit when he was named on the bench for a Euro 2020 qualifier against Turkey.
Having already missed France’s first game of the international break against Iceland, Kanté didn’t play in the Turkey game, but his selection ensured he couldn’t return to west London for treatment sooner.
The midfielder has since been ruled out of the clash with Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.
French national team coach Didier Deschamps confirmed that Kanté had ‘felt a pain’ in a groin muscle prior to facing Iceland, which was the reason he was left out of that one.
But instead of returning to his club, Kanté underwent a fitness test ahead of the next game and ended up on the bench. As well as not getting his player back sooner, Lampard is also disappointed about a lack of communication from the French national setup.
“He had a small groin issue in the warm-up to the first international game for France, we didn’t get him back until after the second game and he’s not fit for Saturday,” Lampard said, via Chelsea's officiale.
Lampard mentioned that Deschamps had previously made a light-hearted comment about Olivier Giroud’s fitness, but the clearly miffed Chelsea boss insisted the Kante issue is ‘no laughing matter.’
Kante had an injury problem in September as well, and Chelsea had discussed with France ‘what would benefit the player’ at that time. The two sides ‘agreed’ and Lampard has commented that was ‘how things should work’. This time, it doesn’t seem to have been like that.
“After the first game when he pulled out, he then had a fitness test a day before the second game where it was clear that he couldn’t play but he then sat on the bench in the evening of the game so that’s not communication,” Lampard explained.
“Our doctors were speaking with them and there were some times where things weren’t coming back to us as I’d expect them to come back, which is what I mean about communication.
“I understand when players are on international duty that they are the national team’s player as such but it was quite clear he wasn’t fit to play.”