Lampard unhappy with how France dealt with Kanté injury
Chelsea boss insists player should have been allowed back earlier to club for treatment
N’golo Kanté: returned from international duty injured and will miss the game against Newcastle. Photograph: John Walton/PA
Frank Lampard has accused France of a lack of communication and criticised Didier Deschamps after N’Golo Kanté returned from international duty with an injury that will keep him out of Chelsea’s game against Newcastle on Saturday.
Kanté has been plagued by fitness problems this season and the Chelsea midfielder had to withdraw from the France side that beat Iceland in qualifying for Euro 2020 after suffering a groin injury during the warm-up.
Lampard is fuming with France for making Kanté sit on the bench against Turkey last Monday. The 28-year-old has struggled since suffering a knee injury this season and has also had ankle and hamstring problems during this campaign, restricting him to six appearances for Chelsea.
Kanté is one of Chelsea’s most important players and Lampard asked Deschamps not to pick him during the September international break. That prompted the France coach to joke about Olivier Giroud not playing enough this season.
Yet Lampard was less than amused when Kanté was not sent home after the Iceland game and said that Chelsea’s doctors struggled to get information from their French counterparts.
“Before the international break, I know Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Olivier Giroud and that was obviously quite light-hearted and I get it, we all have our selection problems and he had his in the two games,” Chelsea’s manager said.
“But the Kanté one was not a laughing matter because we communicated before the last international break because he was injured. Let’s think what benefits the player. 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 that he couldn’t play. He then sat on the bench on the evening of the game, so that’s not communication. It’s not such a laughing matter, I suppose.
“And it’s more for Kanté himself because he’s not an inexperienced player, he’s been around the block, he’s won World Cups, he’s been a fantastic player. I think that probably could have been handled better for sure.
“Our doctors were speaking and there were some times when things weren’t coming back to us when I would expect them to come back – that’s what I mean about communication.”
It was a costly international break for Chelsea, with Denmark’s Andreas Christensen suffering a hamstring injury that will sideline him for two weeks and Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic a doubt to face Newcastle because of a thigh problem, and Lampard is annoyed that his medical staff did not have longer to treat Kanté.
“We got a player back a bit later,” he said. “I understand when players are on international duty, they are their player as such, but it was quite clear he wasn’t fit to play.
“From our point of view we would have wanted him back to work on him but it’s been and gone and as with every international player I will try and have open lines of communication with every manager for both our sakes.
“The first squad, nobody would have benefited from him going: me, him or France. We have to think about the long-term and the care of the player as well so that’s some times a bit of a grey area.”