Chelsea manager Graham Potter says N’Golo Kante’s long-running injury problems will not affect any contract talks with the Premier League club.
Kante’s latest hamstring problem requires surgery and is expected to sideline the France midfielder for four months.
The 31-year-old, who will miss the World Cup starting in November, has been dogged by a series of hamstring and knee problems over the past three years.
Kante has made only two appearances this season, with his injury coming in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham in August.
Those fitness issues have raised questions about whether Chelsea will offer the France international a new deal, with his current contract expiring at the end of this season.
Chelsea are understood to be chasing new midfield recruits in January, which could potentially be the prelude to the midfielder leaving Stamford Bridge after six years.
But, well aware of Kante’s quality in the midfield holding role, Potter on Friday said the Blues were focused on helping the World Cup and Champions League winner to recover from his latest setback.
Asked if Kante’s injury could affect his contract situation, Potter told reporters: “No, the most important thing for us and for me is that we help him get fit. That’s the focus.
“He’s got a long road ahead of him, so we’ve got to make sure we get the right plan and recovery for him. And when he’s enjoying his football we can think about those things then.”
England defender Reece James is also likely to miss the World Cup after suffering a knee ligament injury.
Potter conceded there is little he can do to soften the blow for either player.
“The reality is I haven’t got anything to say that will make it any better for them,” Potter said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United.
“We just have to focus on the things you can control, your rehab, go day to day. Then things start to get better and then you can move forward.”
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