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Lampard latest on squad fitness, Giroud’s chances of retaining his place and the welcome return of fans to Stamford Bridge

Frank Lampard is once again able to utilise a fully-fit squad for tomorrow’s clash with Leeds United as the Blues look to continue a run of 15 matches without defeat...

After making nine changes for the impressive midweek victory in Seville, the boss has some tough selection decisions to make, particularly up front following Olivier Giroud’s four-goal haul in Spain.

Whether the Frenchman will retain his place in attack was a topic of discussion put to Lampard at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, with the answer centring on how the Chelsea head coach must choose the best centre-forward for the job tomorrow.

‘Everyone is fit,’ Lampard reported. ‘With Giroud, it’s not a case of giving any player assurances over game time because with a competitive squad like ours, that’s very difficult to do.

‘All you want is for players, when they’re out of the team, to train well, get themselves in the team and perform like Oli did the other day because then that gives me nice problems. I’m happy with him - his form is good and he’s training well. 

‘In that forward area, I have competition for places. Tammy Abraham has been playing very well for us this season, scoring goals and making assists. I never see anything negative from Oli and I have huge respect for him. If he plays like he did against Sevilla, clearly he will get more opportunities to play because that was just a top-class performance.’

Lampard was also asked about the prospect of minutes for Billy Gilmour in upcoming games…

‘We are competitive in midfield. We don’t have injuries at the moment and the numbers do mean some players will miss out on squads but the quality of Billy will hopefully mean he gets some minutes, particularly when we look at the Champions League game coming up in midweek. 

'More than that, I think Billy’s quality will shine through but obviously there is competition in that area so we’ll have to see.’

Fans will be back at Stamford Bridge tomorrow for the first time in 272 days and the boss is understandably looking forward to seeing them…

‘It means a great deal because we’ve been missing them. In restart, there was such a focus on just getting the season finished but this season has started and I certainly feel it. We do this job and we love it for a reason, working in the Premier League because of the fans and the rivalries and what it means to people, so to get 2,000 of our fans back is a big deal. 

‘They’ve been patient. I know more fans will want tickets than could get tickets and we hope that moves in the right direction quickly but it’ll be nice to hear them tomorrow supporting the team.’

Frank was also asked if some teams having home support and others not, due to the Government’s tiered system, would affect competition…

‘I don’t know but it’s a good question and it’s unfortunate that some clubs can’t because of whatever tier they’re in. Our fans can certainly help us by being vocal and supportive when we’re at home. Chelsea fans are always like that for us at Stamford Bridge. 

'We played a pre-season game at Brighton where there were 2,500 and they definitely affected the atmosphere even though it was a low number compared to the stadium so I expect them to be able to get behind us on the day.’

Finally, Lampard spoke about the togetherness of the group…

‘We’re playing well at the minute but we can get better for sure and what it takes to win over the course of a season is consistency. We’ve got a good spirit. I think the nine changes in midweek and the performance and result showed that but things will test you along the way on that front. 

'We should be very understanding of where we’re at – we’re in a good place but it can be a lot better and it will need to be if we’re going to sustain it through the season.’

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