Frank Lampard is able to welcome N’Golo Kante back into his squad for tomorrow’s big Champions League game against Ajax and our head coach is certainly not concerned if that gives him major selection decisions to make.
The France International has not played for a month having also suffered injury difficulties earlier in the season but he trained with the rest of the players this morning and may see action at Stamford Bridge tomorrow night. With Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho earning plenty of praise for their midfield combination in recent games, the question is where would Kante play or instead of whom, although Jorginho is suspended for the weekend visit from Crystal Palace anyway.
‘Kante is in the squad so he is fit and it looks nicely like the injury and the few niggles he was getting have cleared up and we have been able get some work into him,’ Lampard reported at this media conference on Monday afternoon at Cobham.
‘It was always stop-start before that. He is in the squad and available.
‘N’Golo is huge for us,’ added Lampard. ‘He is one of the best midfielders in the world and has been for a few seasons, so I won’t complain about the nice problem I have with him fit. I want competition, we are playing every three or four days at the moment and I am going to need all of the midfielders and in different positions as well.’
Lampard was asked to comment on words from Kovacic that he is being allowed to play with more freedom this season.
‘You can call it freedom but it is just how I want us to play,’ the boss said.
‘Particularly in some games we have had to break teams down and we need to be able to move, we can’t be too predictable and rigid in our positions. There is freedom to interchange, and the three who played at Watford can do all the roles so I am happy for them to be fluid. I also want them to be positive in their play and play forward passes when they are on, and go by people if that is one of their attributes, like Kovacic has to travel with the ball at pace.
‘It is hugely important in terms of how I want the team to play to be able to accept the ball in uncomfortable areas.
‘We are trying to be fluid in the movement of the ball and that does means moving it through central areas a lot and we need to be able receive the ball and move it in tight areas. It is a huge attribute of a lot of our players.
‘In the first game against Ajax with the pace of the game, if you are not ready to accept the ball then it will find you out very quickly. We train on that sort of stuff and the players are talented on that, but we can always get better because the best teams do it even better than the rest.’
Lampard expects a similarly tough challenge from Ajax as the one we faced in Amsterdam, the one we impressively overcame to triumph 1-0 that night.
‘It is a very good Ajax team with a great record going into that game,’ he noted. ‘They had won all their games, I and the players understood that and we knew we had to be at our top level to get the result. We were but I also think we can improve but in the game itself we did so many of the things we needed to do to stop Ajax being so good on the ball, which they are, and to stop them playing through the lines, which they can.
‘We gave them some problems themselves so I thought it was a fantastic game to be involved in and to look back on, and we will have to perform at our highest level because I expect more of that from them tomorrow.’