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Lampard confirms availability of Pulisic and Azpilicueta, but rules out Ziyech, Chilwell, Thiago Silva for season opener

Brighton vs. Chelsea, Premier League: Pre-match press conference

Well, here we are. It’s time for a return to normalcy, it’s time for the return of football in what is an unprecedented time for football (and the world!) mired in everything from a long break in the middle of last season to a very short break after last season (too short in fact!), and no fans in the stadium.

So it’s not really normal at all, but the new season begins this weekend either way, and that means (socially distanced) pre-match press conferences are back as well.

First things first, injury check! Ben Chilwell (still affected by the heel injury suffered last season), Billy Gilmour (recovering from knee surgery) and Thiago Silva (has yet to train with the team) were all expected to miss the start of the season, and they will. Unfortunately, Hakim Ziyech will miss match against Brighton too, due to the injury suffered against Brighton in the match organized to prepare for the match against Brighton. Hmm.

“Hakim Ziyech took an injury to his knee against Brighton in the friendly game so he won’t be fit. We hope it’s a matter of weeks, hopefully a couple of weeks, but we will have to see on that one.

“Ben Chilwell is working towards fitness. He won’t be fit for Brighton. He has developed and improved this week and going in the right direction, which is good news for us.

“Thiago Silva is now in London but not training with us until the weekend, so I doubt very much he will be in contention for the Brighton game.

“Other than that, Billy Gilmour is a longer-term injury, he will be out for a couple of months more, but other than that we are in decent shape.”

Good news is that there are no other injuries, with both Christian Pulisic and César Azpilicueta back in training after hamstring injuries suffered in the FA Cup final. Lampard confirmed their availability for the match on Monday.

“I am very happy to welcome them both back. Yesterday was their first day fully training with the team, so they’re in contention for Monday.

“I have to be careful and I have a squad to pick from, but the way they’re training and their attitude to come back, it looks like they’re over those injuries. I just have to make sure I manage them both back in in their own ways.”

Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

Of course, Lampard has a lot of reasons to be happy nowadays, some of which are called Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, and Kai Havertz. But with the investment comes pressure to perform.

In response to that question, Lampard simply did his best Bane impression and said, ‘You merely adopted the pressure. I was born in it. Molded by it.’ Well, we paraphrase. Here is what he actually said.

“I am surprised if you didn’t think I wasn’t under pressure last season. I thrive off the pressures. It’s what I love doing. I didn’t come in the job to fight for fourth place or bring academy players in, I came here to win. Last year we couldn’t recruit and this year the club have made the decision to bring in players. It changes the landscape and we’re ready to work.

“I hope Chelsea fans are excited because we have brought in high level of players. But I know what it takes to win the Premier League. City and Liverpool have run over a few years. I hope we will improve. We know expectations are there, but we want to improve and not get ahead of ourselves.”

The pressure isn’t always just about results however. Kai Havertz’ arrival has made an immediate impact in two ways already: 1) he took Tomori’s No.29 shirt (which he was reportedly happy to give up even before his rumored loan move) and 2) created a very tough competitor for Mason Mount.

The Tomori situation remains unresolved — and all Lampard would say is that the young defender is in contention for this weekend — but the Mount story was immediately debunked by sources close to Chelsea and the player. And yet, just the mere existence of the suggestion has now created a line of questioning.

“There is nothing specific I want [Tomori] to improve, just to work hard and develop.

“I saw the story about Mount, I know it was fabricated by someone. It was a strange angle. I know that with the young players in the team and players come in then the players should and hopefully will raise their levels. I will pick the team on how they perform every week. Everyone should be positive.”

-Frank Lampard; Source: Football.London

That’s everything of note from Lampard’s first press conference of the season. It’d be wonderful if we could start the season on a winning note. Onwards!

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