CHELSEA will have to make do without N’Golo Kante and Andreas Christensen for this weekend’s clash with Newcastle – but Callum Hudson-Odoi is fit and raring to go.
Frank Lampard has slammed France boss Didier Deschamps for risking Kante when he was “clearly not fit” during the international break.
Kante missed France’s match with Iceland last week after injuring himself in the warm-up, but was tipped to play to making the bench for the reigning world champions’ game with Turkey.
But today Lampard revealed he will not play in the game against Newcastle.
At the pre-Newcastle press conference, Lampard moaned: “We all have our selection problems, but the Kante one was not a laughing matter.
“We communicated before the first international break. It was clear that he wasn’t fit to play the second game and he sat on the bench.
“I think it could have been handled better.
“I understand that when a player is on international duty that they are their players, but it was clear that he wasn’t fit.”
Now Chelsea are left desperately short in midfield, also sweating on Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek definitely out.
Kovacic limped off against Wales with a knee injury, and is yet to find out the full extent of the damage.
Barkley is another concern for the Blues after he was spotted with an ice pack around his calf after coming off in England’s game with Bulgaria – having scored twice and assisted another goal in the 6-0 thumping.
Of the crocked midfield trio, Kovacic is deemed the most likely to start for the Blues alongside Jorginho, with Mason Mount roaming in his favoured No10 spot.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to start between the stick, with a back-four of James, Fikayo Tomori, Rudiger and Marcos Alonso set to be Lampard’s first-choice if all are fit.
But Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma could be called into the XI should James and Rudiger fail their fitness tests, with both recovering from injuries of their own.
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Callum Hudson-Odoi looks fit and already back in top form after scoring twice for England’s Under-21s – and he’s almost certain to start at left wing.
Willian will likely beat Pedro to a place on the right-flank, while Christian Pulisic may not be ready to play, with the winger left in tears after being taken off in USA’s loss to Canada – reportedly with the flu.
Tammy Abraham is a certainty to start through at centre-forward, despite Michy Batshuayi’s red-hot international form.