Frank Lampard has reported that one of his forward players is in contention and one is a significant doubt as he prepares his options for the trip to Manchester City on Saturday evening.
Christian Pulisic was withdrawn from international duty with the USA, while Callum Hudson-Odoi came off in the second half of England’s 4-0 win in Kosovo, and the boss revealed that the American was more likely to be involved at the Etihad.
‘He didn’t go and we had full communications with the USA national team, their manager and medical team because I like to be really open and transparent with that,’ Lampard said of Pulisic in his pre-match press conference at Cobham.
‘I respect that they want their players but he had a problem going into the last game against Palace and he was struggling, hence why he came off after his goal. We had good communication and he missed the two games but he’s started to train again this midweek so he’s in contention to play.’
There is less chance of Hudson-Odoi playing against City, although the rest of the squad have returned from the international break in good shape.
‘Everyone has come back healthy and well,' continued the boss. 'Callum is probably the one who has a hamstring issue picked up in the England game so he will struggle to be in contention for this game but we’re hoping it’s more short-term.’
Lampard revealed what had been going on at Cobham during the quiet period.
'I’ve been watching videos of City a lot. It’s been an overload of watching Manchester City, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and all their fantastic players. They’ve had some injury issues in defensive areas but they’re a great team and as big a threat as they’ve always been in recent years.
'The international break is different and it can feel quite long. I gave quite a big break for a lot of the staff and the players who aren’t with their international teams. We try to get the balance between work and rest and it’s hopefully a nice little recharge for us all because it is taxing, not just for myself but for the staff and the players themselves.
'They need some family time – some weeks go by without days off and a lot of hours and a lot of travel so we try to utilise a bit of time for them.'
Frank was asked what he would have said if someone had told him in the summer his team would travel to City in late November above the reigning champions.
'I’d have said ‘thank you very much’ out of respect for Man City because of the levels that they and Liverpool have reached over the last two seasons, it’s been incredible. I have nothing but respect for both of them so for us to be in that position is something that I’m pleased with but I actually want more as well.
'I look at ourselves predominantly and don’t consider others around us and I think where might we have got more points. It will be a great test to see where we’re at but it won’t be the end story. You can go to Manchester City and lose, any team can because they’re such a strong outfit so I won’t be making huge judgements because our story is three months or so in the making in terms of me being here and some of the younger players coming in.'
Our record against the so-called Big Six sides was also put to Lampard.
‘Liverpool twice we’ve gone pound for pound with them and lost unfortunately and to a degree because they were very tight matches. Manchester United in the first game we put in a pretty good performance but the harsh reality was we got beat and the League Cup match we changed five or six players so in all those so-called tougher games we’ve performed pretty well without the result we might have got.’
On the sight of his young England players scoring last week, Frank was understandably pleased.
‘I was so pleased to watch them play and score. It’s a continuation of their form and I know from being that younger player with England that when you go away and something like that happens, it boosts your confidence and gives you another sense of feeling at home at that level.’
Finally, Lampard was asked about his plans for the midfield now that N’Golo Kante is back fit and Jorginho returns from suspension.
‘I want it to be a positive issue because we also have [Mateo] Kovacic and many people in recent games have looked at him as one of our outstanding performers. We have Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] coming back but in terms of people who are fit and playing regularly at the moment, it’s great for me.
‘Something I think we’ve done well as the season has gone on is have rotation and fluidity in our game in midfield and not pinning people down so they’re stuck in certain positions. I hope that can carry on and it can bring the best out of all the midfield players because all of them can apply different roles of a midfield player – they can all be the deeper player, they can all be higher up, they all have energy to get around the pitch so I think we can use them all collectively.'