Frank Lampard has ruled Marcos Alonso as ‘fit and in the squad’ for tomorrow’s London derby against Arsenal, although Reece James is more of a doubt following a knee injury sustained in the weekend defeat at Newcastle.
Alonso has not featured since our win at Tottenham before Christmas but the Spaniard has intensified his training in recent weeks and will be available for selection on Tuesday night.
On the opposite flank, fellow full-back James was forced off in the second half of our 1-0 reverse on Tyneside and Lampard provided an update on the young defender’s fitness at his customary pre-match Cobham press conference.
‘He’s got an injury to the back of his knee area,’ the boss revealed. ‘It’s not as bad as it could have been or we maybe thought so he’s in contention for tomorrow but it’s going to be a tight call.
‘We’ll give him another 24 hours to see if it settles down but it’s settled down pretty quickly so far. I was concerned because he had injuries at the start of the season with his ankle but when it wasn’t that I was quite happy. Hopefully he’ll be involved tomorrow, if not for the weekend.’
Frank was asked if our failure to score at the weekend hastened the need for striking reinforcements…
‘I don’t think it hastens it. We didn’t do any business in the summer window so at this point it’s something we’ve seen as being a little problem over some of our home games where we haven’t scored. There are two things to do – firstly, work hard with the group here and secondly, if we can improve in areas of goalscoring then it’s something for sure we have to look at.
‘Sometimes as a team you can work to get yourself up the pitch towards the 18-yard box and create chances but then you do rely on those moments of killer instinct, being calm to put the ball away and it’s something we’ve fallen short of.
‘You can practise it and we certainly need to get better at if we want to continue to look upwards because there’s a slight ceiling if you can’t do that last bit. It’s all good getting into the 18-yard box a lot but to finish the job is the gold and what makes the difference.’
With the transfer window still open for a little under two more weeks, Lampard provided an update on recent speculation linking us to Edinson Cavani and other more short-term solutions…
‘There’s nothing absolutely imminent. We’re looking but there’s nothing to tell you that might happen right away. Cavani is a great player. I played against him and always loved his mentality and attitude, and obviously his goalscoring record speaks for itself. I’m not aware of his situation so we’ll see.
‘He’s an experienced player but so are many other players out there. We are young as a squad and we know about the transition so the idea of bringing in experience is something I’m certainly not looking absolutely away from because sometimes the younger players need a bit of help and that may help us.
‘Long-term in January is very difficult so short-term is something we would look at because there are issues that are pressing for this season and for us now to finish where we want to get to. It’s something that we are looking at.’
There was also an update on potential outgoings…
‘There’s not much more to say on Olivier Giroud. We know there have been discussions and the idea that he may move on but it needs to be right for everyone and at this point it isn’t yet.
'Victor Moses is coming back from his loan with a view to going elsewhere and those talks are ongoing as well.’
Frank finished by responding to a question about Kepa Arrizabalaga and the keeper’s part in Newcastle’s goal on Saturday…
‘I’ll always defend all the players. If there are individual errors then players are the first ones to put their hands up and goalkeepers should be as well. You’re quite isolated and it’s a difficult job because the spotlight is really on you individually.
‘At times he’s made good saves this season and at times he’ll say he wants to do better. He is still relatively young as a goalkeeper and he wants to improve, as he should do. I think he can improve as much as all the team - and we - can improve.’