Midfielders and middle-order batsmen have been discussed by Frank Lampard in the lead-up to today’s hosting of Sheffield United in London SW6 today.
N’Golo Kante, who is not available for the game but is expected to be back soon, was one footballer in focus and Jorginho, who can play today is another, but our boss has also spoken about England cricketer Ben Stokes and his recent outstanding and match-winning contribution in the Ashes series.With Lampard a big fan of England’s traditional summer sport and a talented player of it in his youth, it is no surprise he took great interest in Stokes’ batting last weekend which turned almost certain defeat against big rivals Australia into a vital victory.‘I watched the first bit on my phone in the pub on Sunday afternoon,’ Lampard said of the dramatic finish to the test match.‘I had football on one phone and cricket on the other, and if you can get away with that when you are with your wife and the girls, it is impressive I think! But I then went home and watched the cricket when it got really serious and it was very impressive, the best individual sporting performance I have seen in a long time.‘I remember growing up very young when Ian Botham did a similar type of job and then I remember Kevin Pietersen doing it. There have been others obviously who have made huge impacts but to watch it now, when you are involved heavily in sport, and to see what that means in terms of mindset and the work that goes into that in terms of performing so brilliantly, with power and mind and technique and talent, from Ben Stokes was special. I love seeing that in sport.’
The fact that he has many players from non-cricketing nations means Lampard is not tempted to highlight Stokes’ performance to his squad as potential inspiration, but he does believe the work ethic involved translates across sport.‘I know what goes into that and I do certainly try to push that daily and hourly in everything we do because anyone who gets to the top or anywhere near what Ben Stokes did has been doing hours and hours of work, and also obviously has great talent. For me it was inspiring and work ethic and then performance anywhere near that level should inspire all of us.’
Kante return update
A Chelsea player famed for his industry among other qualities is Kante who will continue to rest his troublesome ankle this weekend but is not a long-term concern reports our head coach.‘There is a phase and I remember it is as a player myself, when sometimes you get a couple of niggles and you just have to clear the decks and get them right. I am not worried at all about any long-term effect at this point.‘It is more can we show him a little bit of TLC in terms of he has a problem, he has pain in his ankle, it is not a huge injury, can we get that right? Then we can start afresh because he missed pre-season and this international break falls at a good time for him. I don’t expect any issues unless there is something I don’t know about coming up.’
Lampard then went on to explain there are a lot of Kante’s qualities he hopes will help with the way he wants Chelsea to play.‘Not just because of his energy, but in terms of his high-intensity running and how he covers ground, and has a feeling for danger and when to leave areas and go to win the ball back. Also as we all saw in the Super Cup, this incredible quality to move with the ball and find passes. That is why I fall somewhere in the middle of the debate about what his best position is, because I think he can do various things for us and I would not want to pin him down. But in terms of how I want to play, he is going to be big for us.’
Jorginho earning praise
In the meantime, Jorginho has also been proving important to Lampard’s midfield, in an altered role from last season as he is now generally one of two deeper players. The player’s good form was rewarded by his name being sung by the travelling fans at Norwich last weekend.‘I was delighted to hear that myself because he has been a pleasure to work with,’ notes Lampard.‘Fans are generally pretty honest and I don’t want to talk about last year but what they are seeing is a player now who has a drive, a determination and is a good team player.‘I am certainly seeing that and I think they are. He also has quality that can change a game, lead a game and own a game slightly from midfield areas, and I am delighted with that.
‘He is a fantastic sportsman who cares deeply and when you have a training session that might fall below standards, or drop for a moment, he is one that drives it up. That is what I see and so when the fans see that on the pitch as they did at Norwich then that is why they sing his name.‘From watching Chelsea closely last year, I thought he finished the season brilliantly and if there was a tough time between him and the fans, what is really easy is to hide. That he never did, he never hid from receiving the ball and that is a sign of his character. And that is what fans will applaud and long may it continue.’