For those Chelsea players who were injured when football stopped in March, the pause in play has given them time to work their way back to full fitness, according to Frank Lampard, with N’Golo Kante in particular benefitting from a break.
The Frenchman was one of a number of Blues who missed the Everton win, our last game; Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, as well as long-term absentee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, were also injured.
It is perhaps the consistent unavailability of Kante that has been most keenly felt by Lampard this season. The 29-year-old has suffered ankle and muscle injuries, restricting him to 22 appearances so far. This on the back of the hamstring problem that meant he played through the pain barrier in the Europa League final at the end of the 2018/19 season.
‘We had quite a few injuries going into the period when we finished playing,’ stated Lampard.
‘N’Golo Kante is a great example. Obviously he has played four or five incredible seasons in terms of his success as an individual. He has been used, quite rightly so, by his managers a lot.
‘This season he has played about 40 per cent of our games. Even then it’s been difficult for him. I’ve really felt for him on an individual level.
‘He’s been a huge miss for us. Looking forward, and whenever a restart comes, we want to get him in his best shape. We want to get Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has missed the whole season, in his best shape.’
The work towards achieving peak fitness for Kante, Loftus-Cheek and co has understandably been limited by the self-distancing rules in place, alongside the focus on the players’ mental wellbeing during these uncertain times.
Nonetheless, Lampard says he and his staff are doing all they can to ensure the players are as fit and healthy as can be for whenever a return to playing is possible.
‘Recently we have tried to get those players who have had extra problems a bit fitter, and of course if and when we get a chance to get back to full training we can hopefully get them to where we want to be.
‘We obviously need N’Golo Kante in our team, one of the best players in the world. I knew that before becoming manager of Chelsea, I know that from working with him. We unfortunately haven’t been able to have him much this year, but going forward we want him fit and ready to go.’
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