As Chelsea prepare to travel to Leicester City in the Premier League tonight with only one injury absentee, Frank Lampard has plenty of tough decisions to make with his team selection at the King Power Stadium.
N’Golo Kante misses the trip to his former club with a hamstring injury but the Frenchman is the only player unavailable, giving Lampard varied options throughout the side. Reece James is fit and may return to the back four, as could Kurt Zouma, who was on the bench for the 1-0 win at Fulham on Saturday.
Further forward, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s recent form has placed him into contention for a league start although there is plenty of competition in attacking areas, with Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech all hoping to keep their places in the forward line.
Lampard has admitted he leaned on experience with his starting 11 at Craven Cottage following a stuttering run of league form and that will be a consideration again this evening in the East Midlands.
‘I did consider it a lot in the team for Fulham and that’s my job to consider all things,’ Lampard said of starting with more seasoned professionals in the side. ‘It’s very easy to say just pick the players that have trained the best or who have the best stats but sometimes you have to think about the moment.
‘I felt we could lean on the experience of some of the players who have been in these difficult positions before like Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, who have been through it at Real Madrid or Napoli or previously at Chelsea.
‘I’m not sure if that will always be the case but getting the balance of the team right is important because we do have a young squad, particularly in forward areas, and then a bit more of an experienced squad in deeper areas of the team. I have to consider that and get the right balance on the pitch and off the pitch.’
Lampard also believes the fact most of his attacking players are either still young or new to the Premier League reinforces his belief that they must be afforded time and patience.
‘We know at the top end of our pitch that we’re a bit young and sometimes we’re waiting for players to hit form and rack up some numbers,’ he explained. ‘In those tight games, you need that to get your nose in front.
‘For the first 15 minutes against Manchester City, we were the best team but we didn’t score and then they of course showed their quality in that 30-minute patch after that. We have to look at ourselves and try to step up and be more clinical at the top end of the pitch to win us those games.
‘If we want to get to where we want to get to, we need to beat teams around the top and we have an opportunity to do that against Leicester, who are around the top for a reason this year. They’re a very good team and those fine margins will be very important.’