FRANK LAMPARD hopes N’Golo Kante can play against Ajax next week as he prepares to welcome the ace back to training.
Kante, 28, has started just three Premier League games this season after being plagued by repetitive injuries.
The France international’s last appearance came at the beginning of the month in the 4-1 win at Southampton.
And Chelsea fans are starting to get worried about his long-term fitness, with Kante picking up hamstring, knee and ankle knocks in the last six months.
Kante’s prolonged absences, resulting in TEN missed matches this term, have seen Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic play in most of Chelsea’s games in the new Lampard era.
The pair featured yet again in last night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester United.
And both looked slightly off the pace, with Lampard admitting they could have done with a rest.
Youngster Billy Gilmour was drafted in as Mason Mount was put on the bench.
But with Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek also sidelined with respective ankle and Achilles problems, Chelsea’s midfield failed to help break down United’s stubborn five-man defence.
However, Lampard’s squad could soon be freshened up by Kante’s imminent return.
He is unlikely to feature in the weekend clash at Watford.
But Lampard hopes Kante will be available for selection in next week’s Champions League clash with Ajax at Stamford Bridge.
Lamps said: “He’s going to hopefully join training in the next two or three days.
“Hopefully. He’s important, he’s a top player.
“I would have liked to give Jorginho in particular and Kovacic a rest because of what they have been putting in, the endurance of the season.
“But I couldn’t because of N’Golo, Ross and Ruben out long-term. He (Loftus-Cheek)’s on the road but a fair way away.
“We couldn’t make those changes I would have wanted today but it is what it is.”