Frank Lampard identified the physical effort his team put in against Kawasaki Frontale as being a particular source of satisfaction for him during our third pre-season friendly of the summer.
The conditions in Japan were hot and humid during our narrow loss to the J.League champions and Lampard expressed his delight at the manner in which his players, still acclimatising to the difference in temperature and time, tackled them.
‘Obviously we want to win matches no matter what,’ Lampard began, ‘but 10 days of pre-season having flown into Japan three days ago brings up a lot of difficulties for us physically.
‘That’s why I was very pleased with the players physically. They gave everything in strong humidity with some good individual performances. I discovered a real appetite and attitude to work in the humidity with jetlag for a lot of the players.
‘People are finding their fitness and their form. There are the normal things in pre-season that take a bit of time: being clinical in front of goal which we weren’t, but that comes, and some small details we will work on.
‘Our quality of play on the ball was not quite what we want. We will get there. In front of goal it was a similar thing. We are not quite as sharp as we want to be but we are working towards that and I’m confident it will come. I have got no fears. I was happy with big parts of the performances.’
Lampard was asked about Kurt Zouma and Kenedy’s prospects for the season ahead
‘Kurt is a very good defender, a very good person and professional, and I want him here, simple as that. We are competitive with the centre-backs we’ve got in the team. He had a very good season at Everton and I understand why they want him, but he’s a Chelsea player and I want him. He’s working really hard and if he competes for a position and plays well this season then he plays.
‘With Kenedy, my feeling coming into a big squad with a transfer ban, is that I need to assess the players for as long as I can in pre-season to make sure we pick the right squad.
‘If Kenedy continues to show the attitude and play the way he did today he is making a great case to stay having been on loan in recent seasons. Nobody is in or out of the squad or has had a line drawn under or over them. Everybody is competing to stay in it.’
Mason Mount was another who stood out in the Yokohama International Stadium
‘I thought Mason’s performance was really good. It was a continuation of how he played for me last year on loan. His energy is quality even though he hasn’t been with us long. We know Mason is part of the first team squad this year, and it’s time for him. His qualities will improve even more with the quality around him. Everyone knows the hopes I have for Mason, and he showed a glimmer of what we may see this year and going forward.’
Lampard provided updates on Tammy Abraham and Kepa who weren’t involved today because of illness
‘The illnesses aren’t related. Tammy Abraham has tonsillitis and Kepa reported a stomach bug this afternoon. I’m not a doctor but it probably comes a little bit alongside what I mentioned before about players not sleeping and finding it difficult in different ways, and it’s come out in those two players.
‘I don’t expect either of them to be too long. I know Tammy is already on the mend. Hopefully both are in contention for Barcelona next week.’