Frank Lampard has been left frustrated with the management of the France national side after seeing N’Golo Kante returned to Chelsea nursing another knock.
The World Cup-winning midfielder was among those to link up with their respective countries during the international break.
Those at Stamford Bridge were reluctant to part with the 28-year-old as he has struggled with a series of ailments so far this season.
Didier Deschamps wanted to have Kante at his disposal, though, and while he saw no game time with Les Bleus, he was put through his paces in training and was due to figure against Iceland before being laid low.
Those efforts have aggravated a groin complaint, with Lampard now having to prepare for a Premier League meeting with Newcastle on Saturday without the services of a key man.
The Chelsea boss told reporters: “No, N’Golo is not fit. A small groin issue with France, he isn’t fit for Saturday.
“[Mateo] Kovacic had a knock on his thigh, but in contention. Ross [Barkley] is fine. Andreas [Christensen] has a hamstring problem which is going to see him out for two weeks.
“[Antonio] Rudiger is outside training, a bit of work to be done for match fitness. But a positive that he is outside.”
Lampard added when pressed further on Kante: “We all have our selection problems, but the Kante one was not a laughing matter.
“We communicated before the first international break. It was clear that he wasn’t fit to play the second game and he sat on the bench. I think it could have been handled better.
“I understand that when a player is on international duty that they are their players, but it was clear that he wasn’t fit.”
Kante has taken in just six appearances for Chelsea this season, preventing him from aiding a cause which has been building momentum.
The Blues have emerged victorious in their last four games across all competitions, and have suffered just two Premier League defeats so far, with the hope being that a break has not come at the worst possible time.
Lampard added: “Hopefully not. We were playing well and we have to hope that we don’t have short memories and that we can get straight back to that.”
He went on to say of a meeting with Steve Bruce’s Newcastle: “It would be easy to look at us as favourites, it would be a casual mistake for us to make that a story.
“We have to control what we can control, can we create chances and to make sure that we are at our best.”