Frank Lampard hopeful of Kante’s fitness before Premier League opener

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has said that he is hopeful over the return of N’Golo Kante before the Premier League opener against Manchester United next month. The France international has been struggling with a knee injury since the closing stages of the previous campaign and he has yet to completely recover from the setback.

Speaking to reporters, Lampard acknowledged that the midfielder has yet to overcome the knee concern and that was the reason behind his early return to Cobham from the club’s pre-season tour. He added that the Frenchman could return to training by the end of the weekend and hopefully, he can make the team when the campaign begins at Old Trafford.

He said: “I sent him home a few days ago. Even though I said how good the trip has been for someone who is in their rehab, I think it has been more beneficial for him to be at Cobham with the facilities we have there. It's not a big backwards step that has been taken. He's improving and hopefully by the time we get back and start training towards the weekend he will be in a position to pretty much join in with us.”

In the absence of Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley and Mason Mount have been the main contenders for the midfield duties and the latter has particularly impressed with his distribution from an advanced role. Chelsea had managed just one win from their opening three pre-season games but they managed to bounce back impressively with a 2-1 triumph over Barcelona at the Saitama Stadium in Japan.

The west London giants will now make the return to Europe for three more friendly games against Reading, Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Monchengladbach before the real action begins with an away Premier League trip to face Manchester United.