Date published: Friday 18th September 2020 3:35
Frank Lampard has made a passionate defence of Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead of their clash with title rivals Liverpool.
Loftus-Cheek has spent the last 16 months grafting back to fitness after a nasty torn Achilles, and was the brunt of heavy criticism in a patchy showing in Monday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Brighton.
Gary Neville claimed Loftus-Cheek could have wasted his chances at Chelsea, tipping the Blues to “cash in” by selling the 24-year-old.
But despite Chelsea’s £200million summer overhaul Lampard has insisted he retains full faith in Loftus-Cheek’s ability to thrive at Stamford Bridge after his lengthy injury battle.
“I know Ruben’s story probably second-best to how he knows it,” said Lampard.
“But Ruben had a terrible injury, an injury that he worked very hard to come back from.
“He was just about to start playing Under-23s games when lockdown came in, and then he worked incredibly hard in restart and got a start against Aston Villa.
“He was due to start against Bayern Munich in the last game of the season but had a bit of an issue on the day of the game. And after that he has trained brilliantly to get fit again for the start of the season.
“And I think if there is harsh criticism of him in the game against Brighton then it is certainly very harsh.
“Because to come back from injury like he has, it’s been difficult for him. He’s put a lot of hours into it.
“He’s a hugely talented player and a great lad. So there will be lots more to come from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
“Unfortunately it’s the nature of this game that it’s very reactionary, and people will say it as they see it.
“But knowing Ruben’s story behind the scenes, he’s fought back really hard to get back to where he is, and he’s a very, very talented player.”
Ziyech, Chilwell and Silva not yet ready
Chelsea will host defending champions Liverpool in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge. The Blues are well aware of the scale of the challenge against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Christian Pulisic is still not ready for action after hamstring trouble. And Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva will have to wait again for their Chelsea debuts.
Striker Timo Werner is available again after a picking up a dead leg at Brighton, however.
“Ben Chilwell’s not ready for the game, Christian Pulisic is not ready for the game and is quite similar to Ben,” said Lampard.
“We hope they are training and progressing over the next week or so
“Hakim Ziyech is also not ready for the game, but Timo Werner is fit.
“Thiago’s been training with us for the last three or four days, we’re just working with him on his fitness for the moment, so Liverpool will come too soon for him.”
Lampard plays down Klopp rivalry
There has been much talk about Lampard’s rivalry with opposite number Jurgen Klopp, but the Liverpool boss has already denied such a feeling exists.
And Lampard also played down any idea of a rivalry with the German.
“That’s the nature of the world we live in,” he said. “There’s a lot of airtime for you to have fill with these rivalries.
“I understand sometimes they can be scrutinised in every single way. I just reiterate what Jurgen Klopp said on his part.”
He added: “I have got a huge amount of respect for him as a manager. I always have.
“What he has done at Liverpool in the course of time has been incredible and that’s on him as the focal point of the club. There’s nothing in it for me.
“The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can always slightly boil over in different directions. The respect I have for Jurgen Klopp will never change.”