Ahead of a game against a team and manager he knows well and admires, Frank Lampard has spoken of his delight at Mason Mount’s call-up to the England squad, and also delivered his verdict on our Champions League draw.
The boss delivered his customary pre-match press conference at Cobham this afternoon before our first Saturday 3pm kick-off the season. Sheffield United, who came second in the Championship last season, are the visitors to Stamford Bridge.
Lampard ruled Pedro and N’Golo Kante out of the fixture. He reported Toni Rudiger will play for our development squad against Tottenham tonight in a game that can be watched live on the app and this website.
With the European transfer window still open the boss didn’t rule out further outgoings and said we must wait and see what will happen in the coming days. Among a number of other questions, he was asked for his reaction to the England squad which was announced yesterday.
‘Delighted for Mason,’ responded Lampard. ‘It’s great recognition. He had it at Derby and unfortunately got injured and missed out. I’m delighted for him after the start he’s had.
‘With Tammy, there is competition up front. He’s had a good start, good goals last week. Hopefully it’s a matter of time, that’s Gareth’s choice and with the competition that’s tough.
‘I’m really pleased for Mason, and Ross who is there as well.’
- Mount has been nominated for the August PFA Bristol Street Motors Premier League Player of the Month Award. You can vote for him here
It was put to Lampard we had been handed a pretty tough Champions League draw…
‘Yeah, I think so. I saw the early reports saying all the English teams had had pretty good draws. There never is an easy draw in the Champions League.
‘One team [Ajax] was a semi-finalist last year, Valencia are a very strong team always, and in Lille we have another strong team. It’s certainly no walkover of a group, far from it, they’re quality teams that we will have to be fully on guard for, and be at our best to get through the group.’
Lampard scored on our last visit to Valencia in September 2011
‘Happy memories of that, but also an awareness of a difficult stadium to go to, not hostile as such but very much behind the home team, tight. If you go there and you’re not at it or ready, it will be a particularly difficult game. I’m very aware of how hard that will be.’
Lampard knows Sheffield United from the Championship last term
‘They have started well. I was hugely impressed with them last season, their style of play and formation.
‘The job Chris [Wilder] has done there can’t be underestimated, and I don’t think it is. The recognition he has got is very well deserved - to take that club from where he has, to play with a style and identity he has, when he is a man who feels deeply about the club. I felt that when we went to Sheffield United last year on the line next to him.
‘I look forward to going up against him, against a good team who have stuck to their principles and who will give teams in this league a lot of problems.’
The Blades’ 3-5-2 formation, with overlapping centre-backs, has caught the eye
‘We have to give credit where it’s due. There’s always something nice about being a leader rather than a follower, and that caught a lot of teams in the Championship cold.
‘I really enjoyed the tactical battle of going up against them twice. It is certainly something you have to applaud and it gives a lot of threats against you. You have to work out how you can damage them from the way they play yourselves.
‘From watching their first games, there’s not just a tactical edge to the way they play. They are also physical and there is a spirit about the way they play. That may have grown with trusting the players who have got them up.’
Lampard said the whole squad and staff felt an uplift after the win at Norwich
‘I have watched the game back and there is lots and lots for us to improve on. The players know that. That’s a good sign. We got a result, we played pretty well, but I believe there is a lot more to come. We can’t rest on that – it’s important we back it up.’
Tammy Abraham scored his first Chelsea goals at Carrow Road and Lampard was asked how he felt the striker had handled the start of the season
‘Really impressed. His character and how he dealt with the Twitter situation was brilliant. He had to rise above it which wasn’t easy. He certainly did with his response.
‘He has this character which is enthusiastic. He trains with a smile on his face and a work ethic. In terms of what I see on the outside and how he reacted to that, and the competition to try and get in to the first XI, I can’t complain.
‘That must stay and improve all the time. Two goals doesn’t make or break him. It’s just the start and he needs to push on. There’s competition up front and I’m not playing young players for the sake of it. Tammy is playing at the minute because he deserves it, but he will have to continue deserving it.’