It is too early to say whether Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi will return to the squad for Chelsea’s next game after injury but Frank Lampard has not ruled out the possibility.
The boss gave an update during his Friday afternoon media conference, via video from Cobham, which with the Blues in action on Monday night in this round of Premier League fixtures, had him speaking further ahead of kick-off than is usual.
‘It is their first day back with the group today training at a decent level, so I will have to see how they are the next two or three days to see if they make West Ham, ‘ he said of the two players. There was no other fresh injury news to give.
Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi have both been out with hamstring strains, an injury that has been highlighted as more prevalent across the board in this crowded campaign with its shortened pre-season. That brings into focus again the subject of extending the permitted number of substitutes in league games from three to five, a change that was voted down at Friday’s meeting of Premier League shareholders.
‘I don’t want to talk about it as being a blow,’ said Lampard when asked about the matter.
‘It is just that when we talked about it as managers, the overriding factor from the managers whether they were maybe for or against it, because I think there are different factors to this, was that this is a case of player welfare, making sure we are looking after the players and giving them the best opportunity to perform at an optimum level and not putting them at risk as such because of the uncertain times and the schedule.’
Lampard emphasised that the schedule is about to become even tougher, with Chelsea for instance playing on 26 December and on 28 December later this month.
‘So I think it [increasing the substitutions] would be really beneficial for player welfare,’ he added.
‘Normally in the modern day, player welfare and employee welfare comes down from the top. I don’t think it quite has this time but the decision is made and we just carry on.’
With Chelsea facing the Hammers on Monday, Lampard was asked, not for the first time, about the east Londoners’ midfielder Declan Rice, and whether there is regret he left our Academy at the age of 14.
‘He is a fantastic player for West Ham and England so fair play to him, because his journey there after leaving Chelsea and going to West Ham is a good story to hear,’ said Lampard.
‘That shows a strength of character, and from our end, I certainly wouldn’t use the word regret. Our Academy is one of the best in the world and if you look at our first team now and the players we have produced who are in or around the first team squad, we have so many. And it is not easy, it is not an exact science to choose players.
‘The Academy work brilliantly here and bring through a lot of players. Declan Rice has to give himself personal credit for having the great start to his career he has had at West Ham.’