N’Golo Kante has returned from international duty early after the ankle injury he suffered against Liverpool on Saturday flared up in training.
Kante was forced off at half time during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with the Reds, in which Reece James was sent off for a handball on the goaline.
Despite this he still travelled with the France squad as they prepared for a trio of World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland. However, as reported by Julien Maynard, Kante’s ankle issue was aggravated in training and he has now returned to London.
His replacement will be Juventus’ Adrien Rabiot. Corentin Tolisso has also been ruled out of Les Bleus’ upcoming fixtures with Arsenal loanee Matteo Guendouzi being called up in his stead. It is expected that the pair will join up with the squad on Thursday, meaning they will miss the Bosnia and Herzegovina game on Wednesday night.
Kante’s absence is a worry for Chelsea. It is not yet clear if the injury will rule out the midfielder for any of his side’s fixtures when the international break ends. Chelsea’s next game is against Aston Villa on Saturday 11 September with tough matches against Zenit St. Petersburg and Tottenham Hotspur following in quick succession.
If Kante has to sit out Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho will likely be partnered in midfield. New signing Saul Niguez – a deadline-day addition from Atletico Madrid – could also be handed a start.
Thomas Tuchel had been desperate to add another midfielder this summer to guard against this exact eventuality. After weeks of protracted negotiations, the two clubs finally hammered out a deal with minutes to spare before the transfer window slammed shut.