Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has criticised France for their handling of injured midfielder N’Golo Kante during the international break.
Kante, who will be sidelined for Saturday’s Premier League match with Newcastle, joined Didier Deschamps’ national squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey.
The 28-year-old failed fitness tests ahead of each match due to a groin issue but still sat on the bench in Paris on Tuesday evening instead of being free to return to west London.
“No, N’Golo’s not fit, he had a small groin issue in the warm-up to the first international game for France,” Lampard told a press conference. “We didn’t get him back until after the second game and he’s not fit for Saturday.
“After the first game when he pulled out, he then had a fitness test the day before the second game, it was clear that he couldn’t play. He then sat on the bench on the evening of the game, so that’s not communication.”
France coach Deschamps has previously suggested that Blues forward Olivier Giroud is not getting enough minutes at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard added: “Before the international break, I know Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Olivier Giroud and that was obviously quite light-hearted and I get it, we all have our selection problems and he had his in the two games.
“But the Kante one was not a laughing matter because we communicated before the last international break he was injured so couldn’t go. Let’s think what benefits the player, he didn’t go, we both agreed on that.”
Chelsea go into Saturday’s clash against Newcastle looking for their fifth successive victory in all competitions and the Blues sit in fifth in the Premier League table having gained 14 points so far.