France hit with World Cup blow
France midfielder N’Golo Kante appears unlikely to be fit for next month’s World Cup in Qatar after Chelsea boss Graham Potter admitted in a Friday press conference that the player’s current fitness status is "worrying."
Kante, 31, is considered to be among the finest players of his generation and has amassed a galaxy of professional honors in the club and international game since his rise to prominence as a member of English side Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League triumph in 2015-16.
Recently the diminutive destroyer has suffered a series of injuries which have impacted his career, but it had been hoped that he was due to make his return to the Chelsea team and build his fitness for France’s bid to repeat their World Cup win from Russia in 2018.
But Kante’s absence from the Chelsea team since his side’s August 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur is set to continue, Potter has confirmed.
“Again he’s due to see a consultant at the weekend. It’s a setback so it’s not good news. But anything other than that, at this stage I can’t give you any more,” the English coach said.
“Historically, there are things which have happened which are a concern and we need to get the bottom of that.
“It’s a setback in the last stage of his rehab so again that’s worrying. But all we can do is get the right diagnosis, the right consultation and then try help him get back to full fitness and enjoying his football.”
French outlet L’Equipe reported later on Friday that Kante will not recover in time for the World Cup, which gets underway in Qatar on November 20, and that he will miss around three months of football.
Defending champions France begin their World Cup campaign against Australia on November 22, before facing fellow Group D rivals Denmark, and Tunisia.
🗣️ “It’s a set-back, it’s not good news.”Graham Potter says N’Golo Kanté will be seeing a specialist following another set-back in his fitness. 🤕 pic.twitter.com/HoYMSQhcVo— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 14, 2022
Kante’s fitness woes have also further complicated his future in English football.
His contract is due to expire at the end of this season and Chelsea are reportedly cautious about handing a large extension to a player with such a risky injury history, with the player and his representatives thought to be seeking a four-year deal.
His international colleague and midfield counterpart Paul Pogba is also at risk of missing the tournament after suffering a knee injury of his own.
Another Chelsea star at risk of missing the plane to Qatar is English defender Reece James, who has emerged in recent months as one of the world's best players in his position.
The 22-year-old Londoner, who has amassed 15 caps for England, appeared to injure his knee during Chelsea’s 2-0 win Champions League win away to AC Milan on Tuesday and is due to see a specialist this weekend to determine the extent of the damage.
Potter, though, refused to speculate on what he called “doomsday scenarios” as to James’ fitness until they receive official word from club medics.