Frank Lampard, speaking on video link from the training ground ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie, has listed both the players unavailable to him for the match plus those from the Academy who have been helping with the preparations this week.
He will be without three of his regular squad due to injury, one of those stretching back to a high-profile incident in our last game of 2020, a moment involving Andreas Christensen that drew a reaction from some which Lampard spoke about today.
‘I am not going to talk about the starting line-up for Morecambe but Reece James is out of the game although he will be training with us tomorrow, but the game comes too early,’ the boss reported.
‘The same as Andreas Christensen and N’Golo Kante, who is out also with a minor hamstring injury so he misses this game and he is suspended for Fulham next Friday anyway. So we will get him right.’
Christensen’s problem stems from a collision with Jack Grealish which left him down in the build-up to Aston Villa’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on 28 December.
‘The injury was absolutely from that moment in the Villa game and there was probably a typical modern-day reaction where Andreas took stick for it, but he is out injured,’ pointed out Lampard.
‘The injury isn’t too bad which is good news so he will be back training with us tomorrow.’
Lampard named five Academy youngsters who have been training with the senior players at Cobham this week and explained how that is possible and why it is of big benefit to him.
‘The original Covid rules meant we could only have a certain amount of players plus staff in the bubble but an alteration to that recently means we can have some Academy players to call upon, who are tested quite rightly in the process, and that is a big plus for us in terms of being able to train at the level we want to train. So they have been in to train with us and some maybe involved in the game on Sunday.
‘We have called up both Tinos – Anjorin and Livramento, and Jude Soonsup-Bell who has been scoring goals in the youth team. We have called up Lewis Bate who has trained with us before and we have called up Henry Lawrence.
‘It is a great experience for them. It is something I wanted to do and was able to do at the club last year pre-restart. It helps training because it is really important to have competitive training and having young numbers allows that without killing the players physically between games.
‘We have had a long week and they have really been able to help and also shown their qualities and it is great to be able to gauge young players on not only how quickly they take to the football side, but how quickly their personalities take to the uplift in pressure and level of training. They have real potential for us and there are lots of steps for them, but I am pleased to be able to do it.’
Should Kepa play in goal on Sunday then it will be his 100th Chelsea game but at this stage, Lampard is not discussing his goalkeeper choice for the match not the player’s long-term future.
‘At the moment he is our player and the situation is clear, Edou [Mendy] has come in and been playing regularly as the no.1 and Kepa came into the last Champions League game and did well. He is training really well and his attitude around the place has been brilliant. He is our player and we will see how January goes.’
Lampard was able to confirm that unlike some clubs at the moment, he is not missing players due to positive Covid tests.
‘We have had some positives but we have not had any players positive in the last couple of rounds. We have had small numbers of staff and we have been testing so regularly. Our medical team have been fantastic, over and beyond what the Premier league are laying down. We test and we take people out and we don’t take any risks with anybody and that is only right.
‘The country is in lockdown for a reason and while football carries on, it means there is a lot of mixing going on, so we have to be ultra-careful. I am not completely comfortable but we have to toe the line, we have to try to keep playing but safety must come first.’