Christian Pulisic will not return to the squad for Saturday’s game against Sheffield United.
That was the big news to come out of Frank Lampard’s media conference held via video link from Cobham on Friday afternoon. The boss also updated on Kepa Arrizabalaga who has been missing with a shoulder problem and on Kai Havertz, who is isolating due to Covid-19, but the first update was on the American. Pulisic pulled out of the warm-up last weekend at Burnley due to hamstring discomfort.
‘He is not fit to play,’ reported Lampard. ‘He is still suffering with his hamstring and he is not training.
‘In midweek he was training at a low level but was not comfortable so we have to keep looking for the right solution.
‘Kepa has recovered. He still is getting a slight bit of pain but he is in the squad for tomorrow.’
Lampard was questioned on whether Havertz might be passed clear to play in Germany’s games in the forthcoming international break.
‘I don’t that,’ he responded. ‘With Kai, we must wait until he is symptom-free first of all and then he will have to have a negative test, so at the moment that is not decided, that is not clear.’
The player who replaced Pulisic in the team at short notice at Turf Moor was Timo Werner, who went on to score and then add another two midweek in the Champions League. Lampard commented on the striker’s workload.
‘It was clear with the Burnley game that I was planning on giving him a rest, more because I had options and because of the journey to Russia and back.
‘Timo has had a lot of games but at the minute there is always a balance in my job with players who are playing well and enjoying it and finding their way in the team and making relationships, and feeling the league if they are new to it. That has been a big deal for Timo as well so I have to be happy with that.
‘I am not talking about tomorrow necessarily, I am not going to give the team away, but as we look forward I will try to manage those minutes to keep him as fresh as I can but at the moment he is going well so we will see.’
Werner’s recent success at hitting the target has come with him playing on the left of a front three in a 4-3-3 formation. Lampard points out that it is a shape that was played a lot last season, but he did not use it in early games this campaign.
‘We had the change in personnel in the summer, and with some the players there is a versatility,’ he explained. ‘Things that we would normally work out in pre-season we had to work out in real time so we had a slight change in formation earlier and with the 4-3-3 it has worked well recently.
‘It does give a good balance to our team and there is a balance to our system always where you want to pick the right one and then the players sometimes have to adjust in that as well. So you need intelligent players to take that information on board, we have that, so we just need to keep working on it and also be ready to be flexible if we need to be at times.’