Key midfielders to miss Chelsea’s trip to Palace

Frank Lampard confirmed in his pre-match press conference that N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic will miss Chelsea’s visit to Crystal Palace with injury.

Kante came off during Saturday’s 3-0 win over Watford with a minor muscle injury and Lampard has confirmed he will not recover in time for Tuesday. Kovacic, meanwhile, missed the win over Watford with an injury sustained against West Ham.

The injury to Kante poses a selection dilemma for Lampard in the deep-lying midfield position. The choice is between Jorginho, the Italian midfielder with not a single minute to his name since the resumption of the Premier League, or the highly-rated youngster Billy Gilmour.

Gilmour started ahead of the £51m midfielder in the FA Cup quarter-final victory away at Leicester.

Frank Lampard defends young Chelsea trio after subbing them at ...
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Who should get the nod?

There have been murmurs regarding Jorginho’s future at the club and he seems to be out of favour. Lampard seemingly prefers a more athletic triumvirate in the engine room and Gilmour fits that profile.

After shining against Liverpool and Everton prior to the season’s suspension, he would look to slot into a midfield alongside the ever-improving Mason Mount and a resurgent Ross Barkley, with the former-Evertonian in his best period of sustained form since his £15m move from Everton two-and-a-half years ago.

Assuming Mount and Barkley retain their places after good displays against Watford, the man to bring into the team is Gilmour. Despite struggling against Leicester in the Cup, Crystal Palace are unlikely to press Gilmour high up the pitch.

On The Spot: Chelsea teen Billy Gilmour can 'see off Jorginh
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This would allow the teenager more time to dictate play as he did so expertly in the victories over the two Merseyside clubs. Gilmour’s showing against Everton in his first Premier League start is still fresh in the memory of Lampard.

The balance of Gilmour-Mount-Barkley worked effectively against Everton, showcasing the importance of energy, something Jorginho cannot provide. Mount and Barkley are both goal outlets, while Gilmour is capable of controlling the tempo in a deeper role.

Gilmour excelled against Everton

Against Everton, Gilmour touched the ball 91 times, with a pass completion of 91.3% from 80 passes. This included one successfully completed key pass while his overall display was authoritative, earning the young Scot a Man of the Match award.

He proved to his coach that he could slot well into midfield, offering a quality of ball progression defying his years. Lampard is clearly a fan of Gilmour while his non-selection of Jorginho has been evident. As a result, it is Gilmour who is likely to start in a midfield with Mount and Barkley. Chelsea continue their quest for Champions League qualification against Crystal Palace, with kick-off at 6pm UK time.

Predicted line-up (4-3-3). Kepa Arrizabalaga; Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Cezar Azpilicueta (C); Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount, Ross Barkley; Willian, Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic.

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