Frank Lampard: N'Golo Kante, Callum Hudson-Odoi 'Not Match-Fit' for Valencia

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2019

MONCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY - AUGUST 3: (L-R) N Golo Kante of Chelsea FC, coach Frank Lampard of Chelsea FC  during the Club Friendly   match between Borussia Monchengladbach v Chelsea at the Borussia Park on August 3, 2019 in Monchengladbach Germany (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has confirmed neither N'Golo Kante nor Callum Hudson-Odoi are "match- fit," meaning they will miss Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash with Valencia.

The Blues are poised to make their return to European football's elite club competition, having won the UEFA Europa League last term. They will face a difficult task getting out of their group, though, with the La Liga outfit, Ajax and Lille likely to offer significant resistance.

In a blow for the team, Lampard has confirmed that Chelsea will be without two of their key players for their Champions League opener at Stamford Bridge.

According to the manager, Kante and Hudson-Odoi are "fit, but not match-fit," per BBC Sport. The Chelsea boss provided more details regarding the recovery of the latter, who has been absent since April due to an Achilles issue, as well as defender Reece James:

Lampard also said Antonio Rudiger and Emerson will not be involved in the Champions League opener. Rudiger picked up a groin problem in Saturday's 5-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, while Brazil native Emerson injured his thigh during the international break with Italy.

Kante's start to the season has been blemished by a number of injury issues, meaning he has been limited to just one start in the Premier League.

Since taking over as manager in the summer, Lampard has had mixed fortunes. While his team has played poorly at times, they showed what they're capable of in their impressive win at Molineux.

It was a result that would have given Lampard plenty of satisfaction, as the young players he has afforded opportunities to excelled. Tammy Abraham was on the scoresheet three times, with Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount also netting for the Blues.

Oliver Kay of The Athletic praised Lampard for having faith in some of the club's most exciting prospects:

Hudson-Odoi will be keen to rediscover his fitness and make his mark in what is developing into an enterprising young Chelsea side. Per Liam Twomey of The Athletic, the England international winger looked sharp during a runout for the team's under-23s against Brighton Hove & Albion on Friday:

It will be intriguing to see how these youthful players perform on the Champions League stage, especially against three capable sides in Group H.

Valencia are out of sorts after sacking their manager last week, and the Blues will be confident of starting their European campaign with a win. While Chelsea come into the game on the right side of a 5-2 scoreline, Los Che were on the wrong side of the same result on Saturday, as they were well beaten by Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

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