Frank Lampard has praised the development of Fikayo Tomori following the young defender’s new contract signing yesterday but also called for ‘the hard work to start again’ as he looks ahead to a busy fixture schedule for his side.
The Blues are back in domestic action on Saturday afternoon when we host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge and Lampard also discussed the threat of the Cherries as well as the increasing transfer rumours ahead of the January window when he addressed the media at Cobham for his weekly pre-match press conference.
Tomori signed a new five-year contract on Thursday with the club he’s been at since the age of seven and Lampard, who worked with the 21-year-old at Derby County last season, claimed it was a deserving reward.
‘He’s come a long way and it’s all his own doing because from the moment he came to Derby he showed a work ethic and a desire to listen and improve himself,' Lampard said. 'His personality has come out even more now because he was quite quiet when he came to Derby but he’s less quiet now.
‘Everyone saw his performances in the Championship last season and what he did, winning Derby Player of the Year, but then there were big question marks over him in the summer whether he could do it in the Premier League. He certainly hasn’t proved that yet over a period of time but from my point of view, I have full trust in him and I think he’s done really well.
‘I’m delighted for him but the important thing is he doesn’t take anything for granted now he’s got that nice five-year contract. It’s important now that the hard work starts again.’
The boss ruled Tomori out of tomorrow’s league game but reported he should be back in training next week. In other team news, Lampard said Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s return was ‘probably more than weeks’ away as the midfielder continues his rehabilitation from a long-term Achilles injury.
When asked about the prospect of losing players from the squad in January, Frank claimed he was more than happy with his current group.
‘All the players that are here, I won’t have any talk of anything in January until we get to January. I want every player in the squad to be here for Chelsea, to have the right professionalism and the desire to be here.
‘We have to look to improve if we can but I’m happy with the squad. It’s not just my job but I will recommend players who I think can improve us but also fit in with the style and way we want to go and come in really hungry so that’s what we’ll look for.’
Lampard also reacted to the rumours of defensive reinforcements being required, particularly at left-back.
‘When you look at the number of players we’ve got there and the quality of player, I don’t think it’s a problem. We just need to make sure with our full-backs that they join in a lot and have the capacity to get up and down, which is important in how we play.
‘Emerson played really well the other night, Marcos Alonso was playing in a period of games where we were winning regularly and [Cesar] Azpilicueta can play there like he did in the Premier League-winning season under Jose Mourinho so I’ve got options.’
While Nathan Ake is out injured for Bournemouth’s visit tomorrow, the former Blue has also been linked to a Stamford Bridge return.
‘Nathan came through here but since he’s gone to Bournemouth to play regular football, I think he’s done fantastically well and shown himself to be a really good defender in the Premier League.
‘In terms of the defence that we have I’m very happy and it won’t be something I consider until I feel otherwise. We have to worry about Bournemouth tomorrow, Tottenham next Sunday, Southampton, Arsenal, Brighton, then the window opens.’
Returning to a recent theme, the boss reiterated the need to be more clinical in both boxes.
‘We’ve had a problem with converting chances and it doesn’t make for comfortable ends to games that should be comfortable. Aston Villa should have been comfortable, Lille should have been comfortable, West Ham in the first half we didn’t play that well but we still had chances so that’s something we’re working on.
‘We need to finish more of the chances we create and we need to make sure that when we’re controlling games we can’t have moments in our box that allow teams back in.’
Christian Pulisic has impressed in recent weeks and Lampard was asked how much better the American could become.
‘There’s a lot more to come. He gets himself in so many great positions with his talent and his dribbling ability so more goals will be the next stage of that. I’m really pleased with him because we’ve asked a lot of him. He’s played a lot of games recently, back-to-back in a new league that’s very physical but of course we want a lot more as well.’
Finally, Lampard was asked about returning to domestic action quickly after a midweek European outing and continuing to outperform expectations.
‘Sometimes it takes a lot out of you so there’s a genuine reason there but we didn’t travel and we played on Tuesday so that’s less of an excuse for us. It really comes down to mentality and you have to understand that if you want to be a big club at this level and play in Europe and fight at the top of the Premier League then these are the little tests - after you’ve had a pretty successful but difficult night to then refocus on the Premier League.
‘I didn’t expect us to roll over West Ham. I understand people on the outside might have expected it but similar happened at Everton - we didn’t perform well. If you don’t do the basics then any team in this league can beat you. Bournemouth are having a tough time but no doubt they have talent and ability in their squad to beat us if we’re not at it.
‘There’s a long way to go and that’s from our point of view as well with the teams below us just a few points behind. I don’t think we were very fancied at the start of the season and it’s important that we carry on trying to prove people wrong with our performances. The two games we’ve lost recently have been a timely reminder that we’re nowhere near the finished article we want to become.’