Frank Lampard thinks N’Golo Kante might have to change the way he manages himself after a spate of injuries this season has often left him unavailable for selection.
The 29-year-old had been the only Chelsea player to line up for every minute of his side’s return since the coronavirus-enforced stoppage in the Premier League.
However, he is now out of the upcoming trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, while he is also unlikely to be fit to face Sheffield United at the weekend.
After his fourth injury of the season, Lampard explained how Kante might need to adjust his preparations as he gets into the senior stages of his playing career.
“Take the small injury he has now out of it slightly, because all players can get that in this period because we’re asking a lot of them in games,” Lampard said in a press conference on Zoom.
“The story of the season being he had a pretty bad injury in the Europa League final and when we came back for pre-season, I wasn’t sure what the situation was and it turned out he wasn’t near fit with that injury.
“And now we end up with a slight domino effect that took us through the season which means he played pretty much fifty per cent of the games as we went into lockdown. I like to think that we’re through that patch and that this injury now is pretty unrelated.
“One of the things that looks different for me is that when you do get a few injuries, when you are in your mid-twenties you see things differently and you have to maintain yourself slightly differently and N’Golo certainly buys into that and I think that will help too.”
Still, Lampard has a big squad to select from – and that’s despite also seeing Mateo Kovacic miss out in midfield during the midweek round of fixtures.
Jorginho and Billy Gilmour are vying for a start as the latter is still yet to play a single minute since the restart in late June. Along with those two, Ross Barkley continues to be in a good run of form, adding goals and assists to his game.
Meanwhile, Mason Mount had success in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Watford in a more withdrawn role. Lampard spoke of how he makes decisions on his midfield and praised Mount’s ability to both attack and defend well.
“I spoke of it the other night after the game about teams with low blocks who make it difficult for you,” the head coach added.
“To be able to get players who can arrive with technical ability high up the pitch and around the box and find a pass and take someone out of the game with a skill or finish… It’s big in those games if we feel like we’re going to have a lot of control.
“Generally, with the midfield, I do like midfield players who can perform, not all the roles but can play high, can play on the side, can do the defensive duties and Mason really has that.
“His work off the ball is fantastic for us and if I feel like getting him high up the pitch to put more pressure on the other team if they want to play out, that can help us off the ball.
“Sometimes I’ll ask him to do a slightly different role with the ball where he comes deeper to make sure he’s not missing out on the ball because he’s a good player and needs to be on the ball deeper. Himself and Ross [Barkley] can perform that kind of role.