Graham Potter admits Chelsea do not have like-for-like replacements for two players
The Blues are facing several possible long-term injuries after such a fine start under Potter.
Kante, who last featured in August and is yet to make an appearance under Potter, suffered a hamstring injury set back and could be out until after the World Cup.
On the other hand, James picked up a knee injury in midweek’s win against AC Milan, and despite early positive signs, could still be out for weeks.
Potter did not hide that their absences are a blow to Chelsea, especially that as players, they are rather unique at Chelsea.
“It would be wrong of me to say that we’re not going to miss players like Reece and N’Golo,” the Chelsea manager said about the key injury problems (via the club’s official website).
“That’s normal, and Wesley Fofana as well, but that’s the job of the squad, and it’s my challenge to find a different solution.
“We haven’t got another Reece James or another N’Golo Kante, so you have to find a different way of working within the team.
“Tactically it’s a challenge, but it’s one that we’re up for, and we have to find those solutions.”
Kante is obviously very unique, but Potter can always opt for a different profile player to fill his position in midfield.
It would not be as easy in James’ case, however.
James’ ability to play well in a back three and a back four allows Potter to be more tactically flexible.
Cesar Azpilicueta would be the obvious replacement option, but at his age, it remains to be seen whether he can start week in, week out.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another option. The versatile midfielder played quite well as a right wing-back under the previous manager, Thomas Tuchel, although at the same time, this would also reduce Potter’s midfield options.