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Kante ruled out of Chelsea clashes with Wolves & Valencia

11:36 AM GMT 13/09/2019
N'Golo Kante Chelsea 2019-20
The Blues midfielder has been out for almost a month but will not be fit to play in either of his side's next two matches, his manager confirmed

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has ruled N'Golo Kante out of his side's upcoming clashes with Wolves and Valencia.

Chelsea visit Wolves on Saturday in their Premier League encounter before welcoming Spanish outfit Valencia to Stamford Bridge on Tuedsay in their opening Champions League game of the season.

The French midfielder has featured in just two league matches for Lampard's side this season, having struggled with an ankle injury since the 1-1 draw with former club Leicester City last month.

And while Lampard says the France international is close to a return to action, he admitted that the next two games will come too soon for Kante as he is still "a week or so" away from full fitness.

"N’Golo is not fit," the former Chelsea and England star told reporters ahead of the trip to Molineaux Stadium. "He still has issues with his ankle. The medical team are working with him.

"He is in a transition period and we are trying to get him on the pitch. He is doing some physical work but this game comes too soon for him.

"Hopefully he is close. I don’t want to jump the gun because we are waiting for improvements for that final step to get him where we want him to be on the pitch. Hopefully that will be in the next week or so.

Lampard did, however, have some good news for the Blues, as he confirmed defender Antonio Rudiger is available once again, while Pedro and Mateo Kovacic are also fit.

"Rudiger is fit to play. It’s a choice for myself, but he will have an important role. We have missed him as we have with a few more front line players.

"Rudiger is not old but he needs to take on the responsibility of being a leader. It is important in a team. I don’t want a young team for the sake of it. He can be influential. He is ready to take on those roles."

Meanwhile, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are set to step up their recovery from injury by featuring for the Chelsea Under 23s in Friday night's match against Brighton.

Hudson-Odoi has been out since April with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but is set to return much sooner than expected, while James has been out with an ankle ligament problem since the summer.

And Lampard is delighted to see the pair on the way back to the team.

"Callum will play for the Under-23s along with Reece James," he said.

"He has been training for a while but there are some issues to make sure that he’s okay. It will be great to see that. James, not as long out, but he needs games. I am pleased."