In his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game against Watford, Frank Lampard reported on two injury absences, updated on when two new arrivals could be expected at Cobham and reinforced the collective responsibility to defend as a team.
With the games coming thick and fast every few days, so too do audiences with the press and so the boss was back in the media room at Cobham to respond to journalists’ questions posed in the new normal fashion via Zoom video call.
He started by providing the latest team news for our fifth game in 14 days against Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, with injury updates on Fikayo Tomori and Mateo Kovacic.
‘Fikayo is still not fit,’ said Lampard. ‘He’s hopefully going to be training with us somewhere through next week. He’s doing a lot of work but in terms of the last bit to get him on the training pitch, it’s been tough.
‘Kovacic is going to be out of this game. He hurt his Achilles during the West Ham game and will miss this one, possibly the next one after that but hopefully it won't be too long after that.’
Lampard also provided an update on when Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech could be expected at Cobham.
‘They haven’t arrived. Just like the whole country, we are waiting on quarantine news to make sure the players can travel and be able to move around and work as we’ll need them to.
‘With Timo Werner, he’s only finished recently so he’s having a well-deserved break at the minute and will come back later on in July. Ziyech will come here earlier than that but we’ll have to wait for the quarantine news before we can be clear on that.’
Frank said he was not thinking about transfers after being asked about speculation linking Emerson with a move to Italy.
‘I’m not aware of the talks. What I am doing is focusing on the team and the squad day-to-day. I don’t have any real conversations about the transfer window, whether it’s who we might bring in or who might leave the club.
‘Those are obviously questions we do have to answer at the end of the season when the window opens but I certainly don’t want to be swayed by a rumour or gossip and I’m not involved so we’ll just keep working.’
Lampard was asked for his reflections on a recent Tottenham goal disallowed by VAR and his current thoughts on video technology in football.
‘I didn’t think it should have been disallowed. There have been lots of instances this season and they go for you and against you. When I listen to manages complain, I understand it because emotionally it’s really tough to take when decisions like that happen.
‘I also have sympathy for the referees and the VAR officials in this case because there are rules that have been laid down. It was certainly one where common sense could have been involved but if the rule book states something then the handball is given.
‘We need a big reflection at the end of the season. VAR has improved us in ways but there are ways to improve it and I think a collective sit-down at the end of the season with everybody – referees, managers, players, anybody involved in football that loves the game can have an input to try and get it closer to where we want to get it to.’
Marcos Alonso was highlighted for some criticism in midweek and the boss responded to a question about the role of modern full-backs.
‘They have a responsibility to do both [attack and defend] and that’s important. We try to play football and be progressive but of course we don’t do that with the idea of wanting to concede goals. Recovery runs are a huge part of football and the players must do them whether it’s the first minute or the 90th minute.
‘I don’t think it’s quite fair to just look at Marcos in that isolated incident – he can recover and we can recover better as a team but that has to be something fundamental to the team. You have to run backwards as much as you run fast forwards and you have to have that desire to make difficult runs to help the team.
'I can’t complain about the team with that this year because generally we have a desire to press very well off the ball and when it goes beyond us to recover and get there.’
On the prospect of Watford, Lampard warned of their danger.
‘They’re a dangerous team and with Nigel Pearson they’ve shown a real desire to get out of trouble. He came in at a really tough time but there’s a spirit within them so I won’t pay too much attention to recent results. We know they have a very good side and they’re desperate for points.
'We came unstuck against a team in a similar situation a few days ago so we should be fully aware of the dangers of the game.’
Finally, Lampard was asked about being included in the latest Manager of the Month shortlist.
‘I’ve still got West Ham in my head so I was slightly surprised but it’s a small thing to be proud of. These are not the huge, important things but it shows our good form - five wins in five in that period, and playing some good stuff.
‘Obviously it was disappointing against West Ham, we know that but before that we’d been on a good run. It’s always a collective award because it shows more the work of players and staff included.’
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