Western Sydney Wanderers v Western UnitedMay 8 LIVE
Champions League is world’s best – Lampard
The Chelsea manager will lead his side into continental action for the first time on Tuesday.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is relishing the prospect of his first Champions League match as a manager.
The occasion comes on Tuesday when the Blues kick off their Group H campaign by hosting Valencia.
Lampard’s playing career with Chelsea included making over 100 appearances in the Champions League and helping them win the competition in 2011-12.
The Valencia contest follows Saturday’s 5-2 Premier League win at Wolves, which saw Chelsea’s young academy graduates Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham – scorer of a hat-trick – and Mason Mount all register goals.
When Lampard was asked about the victory at Molineux in terms of momentum and the game coming next, he said: “It’s certainly a good feeling to see the team play the way they did.
“We need more clean sheets, that’s something we continually need to work on.
“But, yeah – the Champions League. It is the top club competition in world football and I’m sure Mason and Tammy and Tomori are all excited for it.
“All the players should be, all players love the Champions League – and I’m looking forward to my debut as a manager.”
Abraham came off in the 77th minute on Saturday looking to be in discomfort, and Lampard – who has stressed that when it comes to the Champions League he will “just pick on merit” and “won’t consider age” – has confirmed the 21-year-old striker had been suffering with cramp.
Chelsea are assessing defender Antonio Rudiger, who was substituted at half-time after slipping on his way off the pitch and feeling pain in his groin.
Meanwhile, Lampard says he thinks Callum Hudson-Odoi is “not far off” as he continues his recovery from the Achilles injury he sustained in April.
The 18-year-old England winger played an hour for Chelsea’s Under-23s on Friday and Lampard said: “I did watch him and I have spoken with him. I think he’s not far off.
“I think we have to be careful because it was a big injury, a major injury, and what we have done is actually get him back ahead of time.
“We have to make sure the strength is right in the area because it could lead to other injuries if we go too soon, too quickly. But the way he played (on Friday), I think he’s not far away. He’s been training with us now for two or three weeks.”
When asked if he had a particular game in mind for Hudson-Odoi, Lampard said: “No, I haven’t really, because the squad is strong.
“We obviously have the Carabao Cup (a home match against Grimsby on September 25) coming and that will be maybe an opportunity to look at players who have been injured or some different options.
“But in between time, if players show, if Callum shows in this week, and how good he is in training, I’ll have to consider him probably from now on.”
Lampard said ahead of the Wolves match that midfielder N’Golo Kante, who has been absent for the last three games due to an ankle issue, was “hopefully close to a return”.