LONDON — Chelsea left N’Golo Kante out of their squad to take on Manchester City after the midfielder fainted at the club’s training ground on Friday, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.
The France international was a surprise omission from Antonio Conte’s matchday squad at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday despite having travelled to Manchester, with Chelsea attributing his absence to illness.
And sources confirmed that Kante fainted in the dressing room at Cobham following Chelsea’s training session on Friday, prompting a shocked reaction from his teammates and a swift response from the club’s medical staff. The Telegraph earlier reported Kante’s health scare on Monday.
Kante was sent to a specialist to undergo a series of tests after regaining consciousness amid fears that he had suffered a heart problem, and while no underlying issues were discovered, Chelsea decided against including the midfielder in their plans to face City when he disclosed that he was still feeling unwell on Sunday morning.
There is a suggestion that the episode may have been the result of Kante returning to a warm dressing room after training in the extreme cold temperatures caused by the Siberian blast that swept across the UK last week, the sources said, though no definitive cause was found.
In any case, Chelsea were in no mood to take risks with Kante’s health when news broke on Sunday morning of the sudden death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. Prosecutors have said the 31-year-old’s cause of death is believed to be “cardiac arrest due to natural causes” but still opened an investigation on Monday.
Chelsea are confident that Kante’s issue was a one-off, sources said, and he is expected to return to contention for Saturday’s home match against Crystal Palace with a view to starting against Barcelona at Camp Nou next week, having trained on his own at Cobham on Monday.
City recorded a comfortable 1-0 victory over a limp Chelsea in Kante’s absence, with Conte’s men failing to register a single shot on target and the home side completing 902 passes, the highest number managed by any team in a Premier League match since the 2003-04 season.
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.