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Chelsea count out Kante for Wolves encounter

N’Golo Kante will be absent for Chelsea’s trip to Wolves as the influential midfielder continues to recover from an ankle injury.

Frank Lampard will welcome back defender Antonio Rudiger for his first appearance of the campaign, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to play for the under-23s on Friday night following the Achilles injury he suffered towards the end of last season.

But Kante’s four-week spell on the sidelines will be extended for Chelsea’s visit to Molineux as Lampard goes in search of his second win.

N'Golo Kante is an energetic presence in Chelsea's midfield

N’Golo Kante is an energetic presence in Chelsea’s midfield (Steven Paston/PA)

“N’Golo is not fit yet,” said Lampard. “He still has issues with his ankle.

“The medical team are working with him. He is in a transitional period where we are trying to get him on the pitch, and he is doing some physical work but this game comes too soon for him.

“Hopefully he is close to a return. I don’t want to jump the gun because we are waiting for that final step, which is to get him on the pitch, and hopefully that will be within the next week or so.”

Lampard’s tenure at Chelsea has been blighted by an extensive injury list. However, the Blues boss might be beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel with both Hudson-Odoi and Reece James in action for the development squad. Pedro and Mateo Kovacic are also available.

Lampard will also want the return of Germany international Rudiger, who has been out since April, to improve his side’s abject defensive performances.

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Chelsea have conceded nine Premier League goals this season. Only Norwich (10) have a worse record than Lampard’s side.

“Rudiger will have an important role to play,” added the Chelsea manager.

“I know how important he has been for the club with his personality, character and quality as an international defender.

“We have missed him as we have missed a few front line players. It will certainly strengthen us and I am pleased to have him back.

“Leadership is important in a team, particularly when everyone is saying how young we are. I don’t want a young team for the sake of it.

“I want leaders within that and Rudiger has to take on that responsibility. He can be very influential for the team but also to the likes of Hudson-Odoi, and Mason Mount, which happens when you become a senior player.”

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Mount won his first caps for England during the international fortnight, appearing as a substitute in the games against Bulgaria and Kosovo.

The 20-year-old forward has started all of Chelsea’s league matches this season, and although Lampard was naturally pleased for the player to make his England debut, he has warned Mount to expect even greater scrutiny.

“I was really proud,” said Lampard. “His dream has come true on making his debut for us and for England, but now the hard work begins.

“This is where the scrutiny ramps up. He needs to go up the gears and continue with his progression because there is a lot more to come from him.”

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