Frank Lampard with a positive update on N'Golo Kante, his thoughts on an incident involving Ross Barkley in Liverpool, and what is needed of his team when we play Lille...
Straight after landing in Lille, Frank Lampard headed to the Pierre Mauroy Stadium to address the media ahead of our Champions League meeting with the Ligue 1 side tomorrow.
His press conference in the bowels of the 50,000-capacity stadium where we will take on Lille was attended by local and foreign journalists, who first wanted to get the latest from Lampard on a pair of midfielders who have been in the news for different reasons recently.
N’Golo Kante felt a hamstring twinge in the build-up to the Brighton game at the weekend and missed it. Lampard reported on his availability back in his homeland, and whether the problems he is suffering now are as a result of playing through the pain in the Europa League final in Baku.
‘He trained this morning and he got through training okay,’ said Lampard.
‘He is still one we have to assess in the morning but we are positive he will be fit to play.
‘The injury doesn’t relate to the Europa League final. What that injury did do, regardless of whether he played that game, was meant he had a broken pre-season.
‘It’s a slight domino effect. The main injury is now feeling good, but he’s probably got a couple of niggles since that, and a tackle at Manchester United in the first game that affected him on the ankle.
‘There’s a bit of bad luck in there as well. Everyone is working towards getting him regularly fit so he can play continuous games, and I’m hoping that’s coming really soon.’
Ross Barkley was involved in an incident in Liverpool on Sunday, and Lampard gave his opinion on what had happened
‘He has travelled with us. In terms of permission, it’s not a problem to spend a day off in Liverpool. In the modern world the few hours to go up there and back is the least of my worries, especially when your family is there. It’s important for people to see them.
‘To address the issue, he hasn’t [broken] a club code being out. The lads were given a day off on Sunday. He hasn’t committed a crime, other than eating chips in the back of a cab which is a bit out of order for the cabbie.
‘But on a serious note, what he has done from my point of view has been naïve to be out on that evening, in the build-up to a Champions League game. He has admitted that as well, and very aware of that. On a professional level those are little things that shouldn’t happen.
‘I like Ross and I have had no problem with him since he’s been here, in fact the opposite. He wants to do well for this club. This morning he admitted he made a mistake. I will take that one at face value, and we move on.’
Lampard recognised the requirement of footballers to be constantly aware when in the public eye
‘Unfortunately for them they live in a modern day. There are a lot of benefits, but there are difficulties that come with that. I don’t understand why, but people have to pick up their phone at first glance and video people in any moment that they think might be interesting to possibly sell or pass on. People will do that.
‘What the lads need to do, firstly for their own benefit, and whether you’re a footballer or anybody growing up, is behave in the right way, and secondly be aware of the pitfalls.
‘We have a very good bunch of lads at this club. I made mistakes as a player along the way, don’t we all. I have got confidence in them that they are professional lads who want to do the best for this club. They must take on their responsibilities off the pitch.’
Lampard spoke in detail about Kepa Arrizabalaga and what he has made of the Spaniard since taking over
‘After the clean sheet on Saturday, the person I was happiest for was Kepa. Even though it’s a team issue, goalkeepers pride themselves on clean sheets. One of the things I have seen since working with Kepa is that he is a very determined individual, he wants to improve every day. He is very focused and I love that.
‘His confidence shouldn’t go down. The clean sheets are not always his own responsibility, but also when he thinks they might have been his responsibility, he is very open to accept that fact and work to improve.
‘I have been really impressed with him. He’s managed to become Spain’s number one which when you think about who he’s competing with at that level is very serious.
‘He is a great age for us in terms of where he’s at in his career. He grew as last season went on to help Chelsea win games, and I think he is growing again now. I am very happy with him as a player. If anything I can say in his role and his status within the group, he can become a bit more vocal because that’s what great goalkeepers do.’
Finally, the boss focused on the Lille fixture and its significance for our Champions League prospects
‘We have to be honest. Valencia wasn’t the worst game for us, we played okay and should’ve got a result, but it was a harsh lesson in switching off for a second and losing a match at this level.
‘That idea ramps up even more when you play away from home at stadiums like this against top European teams. Lille have a lot of threats to us, particularly in attacking areas. They have a lot of speed and a lot of quality.
‘It’s not the be-all and end-all, there are four more games after this, we have to see the big picture, but as we sit here now it’s certainly a game we have to be very ready for to try and pick up something.
‘We can hopefully bring the confidence from the last two results back home tomorrow night. We have to trust that if we play at our best, we will get the result we want.’