News on the availability of Pulisic, Havertz, Chilwell and Thiago Silva...
Frank Lampard was not quite in a position to fully assess the fitness of his squad at Thursday afternoon's press conference given many of the international players had yet to return to Cobham, though there was news on Kai Havertz’s recovery from illness and Christian Pulisic’s rehabilitation.
Havertz has returned to individual training following his self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 and Pulisic is back on the grass as well, although both are doubts to feature in our Saturday lunchtime trip to Newcastle United, as is Thiago Silva after a long trip back from South America.
The boss also gave his thoughts on Mason Mount’s impressive form on the international stage this week and the suggestion that the five substitutes rule could be reinstated in the Premier League, but he started with some early team news.
‘Christian Pulisic is not fit for Newcastle but he’s stepped up his training slowly,’ Lampard reported via video link from Cobham. ‘It’s been quite a problematic injury so we’ll stay cautious.
‘Kai Havertz is back. His isolation is over and he tested negative two days ago so he’s just started training on his own to get some of his fitness back after two weeks at home. Thiago Silva has just landed and messaged me this afternoon so he probably won’t be going to Newcastle because of the length of his journey and timings.
‘With Ben Chilwell, I haven’t seen him yet. He stayed with England and was on the bench last night. He’s been improving and getting fantastic care with England so I’m more positive he’ll be okay.
‘We’re still waiting on some test results for players arriving back from international duty. Some of them played last night and will unfortunately not arrive back until this afternoon so with a 12.30 kick-off on a Saturday there are clearly a lot of challenges for us.’
Lampard expanded on Pulisic’s condition…
‘We’re still searching. He’s had a problematic injury and he had a history before coming to us of some muscular injuries. Everything about how he prepares is perfect so we need to find the right balance between playing, resting and maintenance during the week to get the best out of him. He’s a young player still, it’s not abnormal and we will find a solution.’
The boss was impressed with Mount’s performances for England despite the midfielder’s heavy workload…
‘I’m impressed with his development and I think it shows how much Gareth [Southgate] and Steve [Holland] rely on him and trust in him. I have done throughout my time in management so it’s nice to see a lot of positivity around Mason because it’s well-deserved.
‘He was the only player in the England squad of all the players that are involved in Europe that played all three games but I understand Gareth’s position. The good thing about Mason is he has a great attitude, he’s a fit young man and I hope he comes through fresh because at the minute he’s in great form.’
Lampard reiterated his belief that the five subs rule should return in the Premier League…
‘I think it’s something we have to address again with all clubs. I know we had a vote earlier in the season but nothing has changed in terms of our professional environment since we had five subs after the restart. In fact, some things have tightened up and the schedule has become even more hectic but we’ve gone back to three subs.
‘The reason maybe managers are not making those three subs so much in games, if people want to argue that, is because if you have 10 players who you’re fearful of tiredness in the latter stages of games, to make that third sub in the 70th minute is a danger zone that you might have an injury after that. My main concern is player welfare, particularly for those playing in Europe. It’s every three or four days week after week after week.'
Following suggestions fans could return to grounds before Christmas, the boss was hopeful…
‘I am optimistic. It has to be safe first and foremost but when you see other areas of life where we are having gatherings that are controlled in safe environments then we have to look at football and try to get it back as quickly as we can.’