N'Golo Kante: Frank Lampard hopeful Chelsea midfielder will be fit for start of season
Last Updated: 23/07/19 5:16pm
Frank Lampard says he is "hopeful" Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante will return to full fitness for the start of the new season.
The Frenchman travelled back to London last week from the Blues' pre-season trip to Japan in order to continue his rehabilitation for an injury connected to the knee problem he sustained at the end of last season .
Speaking after Chelsea's 2-1 win over Barcelona, Lampard explained the reasoning behind Kante's withdrawal from the tour.
"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," he said in his post-match press conference.
"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.
The Chelsea head coach said he remains optimistic that Kante will be available for selection in time for their opening Premier League game away to Manchester United on August 11, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
"I hope so. I don't like to get ahead of myself because he has not fully trained yet but the doctors are telling me it [should be fine].
"It wasn't being conservative with him, it was more to have him do the best possible work.
"I am hopeful he will be ready for the start of the season and maybe it's a [good] break for a player who has played so many games over the past few years at such a level in terms of output and energy."
Chelsea saw off a Barcelona side made up of a mixture of experienced and B-team players, with new signings Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong both playing some part for the Spanish champions.
Goals from Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley were enough to seal victory, with Ivan Rakitic scoring a fine consolation strike in the closing stages.
Lampard: Tour served its purpose
Lampard says the tour has served its purpose and he is pleased with what he has learnt about his players with regards to tactics, personality and fitness.
"It's been a good tour and it's always good to come to Japan," he added.
"Most importantly it is work and both games have been good exercises for us. What I've learnt about the players is that they are a good group. I'm very happy.
"In terms of the workload, the players have to get used to it now. I've set the standard of how I want them to work
"We've had two difficult games in humidity. The tour has served its purpose.
"We need to be fit and ready for Manchester United, and the clock runs down pretty quickly at this stage."
Chelsea next face Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday, before heading to Europe for away games with RB Salzburg in Austria and Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany.