Before training at the Krasnodar Stadium this evening, Frank Lampard spoke to the media and discussed his relationship with Toni Rudiger, who he says is ‘very much in contention to play’ tomorrow night.
The boss confirmed all the players that have travelled to Russia are fit and available, with only Kepa and Thiago Silva not making the journey east. The Brazilian has been rested so there is a possibility Rudiger could replace him in central defence tomorrow, fresh from media reports Lampard and him had enjoyed a productive chat.
At his press conference on the eve of our matchday two encounter, Lampard was asked about that first…
‘I have discussions with Antonio and all the players as readily as I can do,’ replied the boss.
‘I have always had a positive relationship with him. Everything I do, I do for the club and selections and the team, and at the minute sometimes you have to have players out of the squad and it is big news for everybody.
‘I have a very positive relationship with him, and he’s in the squad and very much in contention to play.’
A local journalist asked Lampard what he made of Krasnodar, who will be new opponents for the Blues as they embark on their maiden Champions League campaign.
‘Myself and my staff have been watching their games since we were drawn against them,’ reported Lampard.
‘We are very aware of their individual and collective talent as a team, and also aware they are a team that is new into the Champions League, which means they will have absolute motivation to play against a Premier League team to try and get a result. We are very focused on the game.’
Our impressive away record in the Champions League group stage last season, which included victories at Lille and then Ajax to give us a firm footing after defeat at home to Valencia, was also brought up. Lampard wants to see a similar intensity from his side tomorrow.
‘Because of the first game which we lost last year, we had to go and get those results [against Lille and Ajax], which I liked because you saw that in our performance - the edge in our game.
‘It’s very important we keep that edge. People will look at this group and consider coming to Russia to face a team playing in the Champions League for the first time and think it will be a comfortable game for us.
‘We have to have edge in our game. Tomorrow we have to have edge to make sure we get through this group.’