N’Golo Kante will miss France’s final World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Tuesday after sustaining a thigh injury.
The Chelsea midfielder was forced off in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 win in Bulgaria with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
Head coach Didier Deschamps is unsure of the severity of the injury but will certainly not risk him at Stade de France.
“No, I can’t count on him for the next game,” he told a news conference. “When you go out with a muscular issue… it’s something behind his thigh.”
France went ahead with just three minutes gone through Blaise Matuidi but struggled to assert their dominance after Kante’s departure and Deschamps felt the balance in the side was damaged when the 26-year-old limped off.
“N’Golo had a crucial part to play, obviously,” he said. “After N’Golo’s injury, Adrien Rabiot came on in the same role, maybe not with the same quality as N’Golo.
“N’Golo’s injury perhaps disturbed us. It’s not something against Adrien, but just the fact that we found ourselves short of strikers after N’Golo came off.”
The news is a concern for Chelsea ahead of a packed run of fixtures throughout October.
The Premier League champions travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday before resuming their Champions League campaign with a home game against Roma next week.
Antonio Conte’s side then play three more matches in the space of a week, against Watford and Bournemouth in the league and Everton in the EFL Cup.
Striker Alvaro Morata is also nursing a hamstring injury and midfielder Danny Drinkwater has yet to make his first appearance since signing from Leicester City due to a calf problem.
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