With the games continuing to come thick and fast, Frank Lampard knows how crucial squad strength could be in the coming weeks, starting with today’s FA Cup quarter-final tie at Leicester City.
It will not have been much more than 60 hours between the final whistle blowing on our excellent win over Man City and kick-off at the King Power stadium this afternoon. Factor in the unusual lockdown period, when players had to try and maintain fitness in different circumstances, and the incessant run of fixtures coming up, and it is clear why Lampard is considering mixing up his selection for an appetising knockout game.
‘We will certainly have to think about if we need to rotate a bit to keep freshness in the players,’ he said.
‘It’s nice I can call upon players, particularly in certain areas of the pitch. We are not overloaded in every area, and that’s where we will address it at the end of the season, but in terms of what’s in front of us now, we will need that quality we have.
‘We are fortunate to have a few players fit that weren’t so much before lockdown. I will be wanting something from pretty much everyone in the squad. It’s important the players who didn’t start against City or Villa stay fit, stay fresh and ready to come in because we are going to need a lot.
‘We are in a year of slight transition and of course our focus is the league, but when it comes to Chelsea, no matter what when you get to a quarter-final you want to try and get to Wembley and try and win it,’ added Lampard.
‘We are building, we are working, it won’t be easy to try and win this trophy, but with the squad we have and the positive feeling we have at the minute in this group, we have to go in it with the right intention.’
Lampard knows the value of a group winning their first trophy together from his time as a player at Stamford Bridge, and he hopes that can be achieved this season in the shape of the FA Cup.
One of his players who has triumphed in a national cup competition before is Christian Pulisic, a DFB-Pokal winner in Germany in 2017. Aged 18, he came off the bench in both the semi-final win at Bayern Munich and final success over Eintracht Frankfurt, helping Borussia Dortmund secure their first major trophy in five years.
Now 21, Pulisic is wearing Chelsea blue and has been our standout performer since the resumption, with goals in both games so far. Lampard has no doubt he can reach the very top, but insists the American must continue to put his head down and graft.
‘Because he broke through at such a young age in Germany, and he moves to us and it’s a big move, expectations rise, but we have to take his age into consideration,’ the boss noted.
‘But there’s no doubt of his quality. We can see that. He’s very keen to improve and to work, and he’s particularly hungry at the minute because he missed some time with his injury.
‘If he wants to learn, and he does, and if on the training pitch and how he sees the game, and if he looks at the players around him that have made that sort of jump - Raheem Sterling, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, who are producing numbers from wide areas - it’s important he understands what needs to be done to make that jump.
‘He definitely has the talent, and he needs to try and get to that level. I’m delighted to have him at the minute, he works hard every day, and he has to set his sights as high as he possibly can.’