Chelsea boss Frank Lampard remains hopeful that N’Golo Kante will be fit “very soon” after sending the midfielder home from Japan for treatment.
The 28-year-old has been struggling with a knee injury he picked up on the eve of Chelsea’s 4-1 Europa League final win over Arsenal in May and faces a race against time to recover for the start of the new Premier League campaign.
Kante is yet to feature for Lampard’s side during pre-season and the decision was taken to send the France international home before Chelsea beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Rakuten Cup friendly clash in Saitama.
“He is okay,” Lampard said in his post-match press conference.
“It was a decision that I made because I felt that him being here, with the facilities and the moving and travel that we have been doing, it probably wasn’t the most beneficial for him.
“He went back, has had a few days at Cobham (Chelsea’s training base), working well, progressing, so hopefully by the time that we get back at the end of the week I will sit down with the doctor and hopefully know that he will be back with us very soon.”
Chelsea saw off a Barcelona side made up of experienced and B-team players, with new signings Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong both playing some part for the LaLiga champions.
Goals from Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley were enough to seal victory, with Ivan Rakitic scoring a fine consolation strike in the closing stages.
Abraham and midfielder Mason Mount are looking to earn themselves a regular place in Lampard’s side this season having spent last year out on loan at Aston Villa and Derby respectively.
“I won’t get carried away with anything about this performance,” added the new Chelsea manager.
“Tammy’s a goalscorer and he’s hungry for goals. Now it’s his time to prove it for Chelsea. To get his goal will put him in good stead. There’s competition.
“Mason’s had a great trip and he’s announced himself into the first-team squad.”