News

Lampard latest on absent duo, working in a positive direction and Pulisic’s progression

Frank Lampard has reported no new injury concerns following our midweek exertions in Russia as preparations quickly begin ahead of our Saturday afternoon trip to Burnley in the Premier League.

The boss was speaking at his pre-match press conference via video link from Cobham, just after the players had completed a light session roughly 14 hours after the final whistle had sounded on last night’s 4-0 Champions League victory in Krasnodar.

Thiago Silva did not make that trip for reasons Lampard described as ‘maintenance issues’ but would be available for selection at Turf Moor this weekend.

‘Thiago is fit,’ confirmed Lampard. ‘Taking him out of the trip to Russia was more of a maintenance issue for him and I spoke to him about it.

‘We’re just trying to make sure we get the best out of him over the course of a season and in this schedule where we have game after game after game, it made sense [for him not to be involved] in a game which involved a lot of travelling.

‘If he had to play that game then of course he could have done but we have to put it in context of what we’ve got ahead of us. In the end it was a nice exercise with the fact we got a result and Toni Rudiger came into the team and played really well, which is the competition we need.’

Kepa Arrizabalaga also missed the game with an injury he continues to work towards recovering from.

‘Kepa is outside as I speak and has had some progression in his shoulder injury so we’re hopeful but we’ll see with that one,’ added the head coach.

‘In terms of the rest of the squad, we don’t have any clear injuries but we do have a bit of a tired group. We arrived back quite late, in the early hours of this morning, so I’ll have to assess everybody today and tomorrow to see how they’ve settled down and we’ll see where we’re at.’

Hakim Ziyech received plenty of plaudits for his performance in Russia…

‘He was really good last night, especially considering it was his first start in months. When we brought Hakim into the club it was because I’d watched him a lot and we’d played against them [Ajax] the year before so I knew his qualities.

‘He’s a winger that gives us real width but also gives us the clever movements when he comes off the line. He can really produce important assist passes or break-the-line passes which he takes on that maybe other players don’t so he brings us something certainly different to what we have in terms of style.’

There was talk about whether Lampard felt his side were at the stage he expected at this moment in the season…

‘When I came in, the circumstances were very particular so you have to take each situation at face value and try to deal with it. I thought last year everybody at the club dealt with it very well because it was a successful season to finish in the top four and now we find ourselves in a different position, with different players and the onus is on us to work as hard as we can to find a balance and move forward.

‘We’re working in a really positive direction. I keep talking about the need for patience and hard work during this period because I understood early in this season that there would be some difficulties in trying to compete in this unforgiving Premier League with new players, some of them having never played in this league before. The signs I see game after game and week after week, there are a lot of positives.’

Lampard was also asked about recent comments made by RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch regarding Christian Pulisic…

‘I did read the comments and I was surprised that Jesse had managed to read my mind as well as he thought he did. He’s recounted the conversation wrong so I have to put it correct. It was a game against Salzburg in pre-season where Christian scored two goals and I spoke to Jesse after about what a talented player he was and how exciting it was to see how he could develop for us with the talent he has. That was the conversation and Jesse managed to put it across slightly differently.

‘I played in America for 18 months and I would never underestimate the desire that American players have to learn and improve and take on information and understand the technical side of the game. When you have that, which Christian has, along with incredible talent, it was never in doubt for me.

‘It’s clearly the toughest league in the world to come and play in at a young age from a different league. Some of the greatest players in Premier League history have felt that. What Christian did was find his feet very quickly and have a breakthrough season where he produced more goals and assists than he has done before so I thought his performance last season was massively impressive and he will keep getting better and I never doubted it in the first place. As a manager, I never doubted him and it’s important for me to put that straight.’

MORE FROM CHELSEA