Frank Lampard has several selection decisions to make for Chelsea’s Premier League clash against Brentford on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.
The 44-year-old has lost all four of his opening games in charge since returning to Chelsea earlier this month on a caretaker basis while a permanent successor for Graham Potter is found.
After getting knocked out of the Champions League last week, personal and club pride is now at stake for Chelsea in their final seven league games to conclude the 2022/23 campaign.
“I don’t have a mentality that there’s nothing to play for,” Lampard insisted pre-match. “I was fortunate enough to be part of the teams that were challenging for the stuff towards the end of the season, that’s not a given. The fact we’ve been fortunate at Chelsea to have that for 15-20 years now, there are a lot of clubs, big status in the Premier League that don’t do that, we do. That’s why we feel it a bit more.
“It’s important that there’s a reality that when you have long careers, I’ve had one as a player and now a coach, you won’t compete absolutely every season, it’s not a given. It comes down again to your personal pride, responsibility, and wearing the shirt.
“We’ve now got seven games, four against the top four, three away from home. The run-in is really tough, there’s no doubt about that. My interest is to see how the players react to that one because they’re tough games. There’s always something on those games, I understand that, and the players have to understand that.”
Chelsea are down in 11th place and five points behind Thomas Frank’s side heading into Wednesday’s London derby, and team selection will be crucial if the Blues want to get back to winning ways.
So how could Chelsea line-up against Brentford?
Possible XI: Kepa, Chilwell, Badiashile, Silva, Chalobah, Kante, Fernandez, Kovacic, Mudryk, Aubameyang, Sterling
Reece James (hamstring), Mason Mount (pelvic) and Kai Havertz have all been ruled out, joining Kalidou Koulibaly and Armando Broja on the sidelines.
James and Mount are set to both miss the rest of the season, while Havertz is expected back in training at the end of the week in time to face Arsenal next Tuesday at the Emirates.
Lampard confirmed: “Reece James is unavailable, probably for the season. Mason Mount the same, potential for the last game of the season but probably not. That’s obviously disappointing for us.”
On Havertz, the Chelsea boss added: “Kai is still struggling a little bit with his knee, so won’t be available for tomorrow but the good news is he should be training by the end of the week.”
Havertz’s exclusion could hand Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a rare chance to lead the Chelsea line in midweek, while Trevoh Chalobah will be pushing to start at right-back should Lampard opt to play a four-back system.
Noni Madueke, Carney Chukwuemeka and Mykhailo Mudryk will all be hoping for some minutes between now and the end of the season. Lampard insisted they will all get their chances if they deserve it.
“If they deserve it, for sure,” responded Lampard. “There are two things. There’s the individual work, showing you deserve it. I’m fully for that. During my first period at the club, I came in with a transfer ban and losing big players and everyone said ‘Of course, the young players get in the team’. They got in the team because they deserved it with how they trained. That’s a culture and a way you have to have at a top football club. I don’t think changes just for the moment, I think it should always be there.
“Players have to train, those seven games and days of training are all opportunities every day to try and show you deserve to be in the team. As I think I’ve probably shown as a coach, if you do that, you’ll always get an opportunity with me.”
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