Chelsea travel to Selhurst Park on Tuesday evening and Frank Lampard is set to be without influential midfielder N’Golo Kante due to injury.
The Blues bounced back from their disappointing defeat to rivals West Ham Utd with victory over Watford at the weekend, as they still hold a slender two-point lead over Man Utd in the ongoing battle for Champions League qualification.
In turn, they can ill-afford any further slip ups, and they’ll have to try and avoid one in midweek without Kante being at Lampard’s disposal as Sky Sports report that he’s been ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
It’s added that the World Cup-winning French international sustained the problem during the win at the weekend as he was forced off in the latter stages, and subsequent scans have led to the decision that he can’t feature against Palace while Sky Sports suggest that he’ll be a doubt to face Sheffield United on Saturday too.
Given the 29-year-old’s energy, work-rate and influence in midfield on and off the ball, it will be a big loss for Chelsea who can’t risk dropping points between now and the end of the season as it could be crucial in the race for a top-four finish.
It has been a difficult season for Kante though as he has been bothered by injury issues regularly as he has already missed nine Premier League games and is seemingly set to sit out again this week.
Time will tell who steps in for him, as Lampard does have options in that department with either Jorginho or Billy Gilmour likely to be the two more obvious candidates given their ability to play in that role in front of the defence.
That said, Sky Sports note that the Italian international hasn’t featured since the restart, and so it will be interesting to see if he’s snubbed again in the upcoming two games or if he’ll play a pivotal role in stepping in for Kante.