metro: After a rocky start at Chelsea, Frank Lampard is proving himself to be a shrewd operator in top level management and the consummate professional we all knew him to be as a player.
The way Lampard has protected and trusted his young group of players since the season kicked off has been a joy to watch and the Blues are now on a five-match winning streak in all competitions. On Wednesday night, Chelsea will have one of their toughest tests yet when they face Ajax and Lampard will know not to underestimate last year’s surprise package in the Champions League.
Though Ajax have since lost their two most high-profile stars in Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong to Juventus and Barcelona respectively, they remain unbeaten this term and will be confident of victory at the Johan Cruijff Arena.
After beating Newcastle at the weekend, Lampard immediately switched his attentions to the Group H clash and this provoked a strange reaction from former Dutch footballer Hans Kraay Jr. Kraay Jr., who works for Fox Sports, clearly felt Lampard had been talking too much about the Eredivisie club and tried to stump the Chelsea manager at his pre-match press conference, asking him why he was so ‘scared’.
‘When we finish with Ajax it will be all about Burnley,’ Lampard answered. ‘I respect the team, on a serious note. I respect the team because I watched them last year play. ‘I know the team has changed slightly but I’m very aware of the new threats that they have as a team. ‘Anywhere in the Champions League to travel is a difficult match, they’ve won two games convincingly in the Champions League.
‘Definitely it’s not a fact of being scared of Ajax – we hugely respect them as a team and we have confidence in ourselves. We know it’s a tough match but we believe. ‘And the reason why I spoke instantly after Newcastle is because Newcastle was a game in the Premier League where a team played very low block against us, 5-4-1, very difficult to break down which we managed to do. ‘Ajax is completely different so it was really important that we flipped a switch the minute Newcastle finished to concentrate on what’s a tough match tomorrow.’
Lampard confirmed that Callum Hudson-Odoi could be in line to make his full Champions League debut on Wednesday evening. Asked whether Hudson-Odoi is ready to start, Lampard replied: ‘I think he is. ‘So are some other players and there comes my problem but it’s a competitive squad. ‘Just talking about Callum, his performance was huge [against Newcastle]. We know his talent. The problems he gave Newcastle was what I want to see consistently from him. ‘He certainly is ready, there’s no guarantees [with young players] but he is.’
N’Golo Kante and Ross Barkley will both miss the tie and are also doubts for this weekend’s trip to Burnley. Asked for updates on Kante, Barkley and Antonio Rudiger, Lampard revealed: ‘Obviously they are all not here. ‘Ross will hopefully be fit to train on Thursday. Rudiger has trained today, but it was only a small programme. He’s out of contention for this weekend but will hopefully be back soon. ‘N’Golo is training again but it’s not clear whether he will be fit for the weekend or not.’
Source: Published by metro