Chelsea will almost certainly be without three key starters for the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool on Wednesday night, Frank Lampard has revealed.
The Europa League winners were heavily beaten 4-0 on the opening weekend of the Premier League by Man United, despite a good first-half showing.
Centre-back Antonio Rudiger missed that fixture, as did winger Willian, as both make their way back to full fitness after injuries over summer.
Neither are quite ready to start for the blues, says Lampard, although they have travelled and will be on the bench—and he’ll make a judgement call as to whether or not they feature as subs.
“Willian and Rudiger are here with us an in different stages,” Lampard told journalists at his press conference. “Willian is not far from fit, he’s in training; [but to] put him into a high-intensity match would be a risk, he’ll be working on fitness this week but tomorrow on the bench.
“Similar with Rudiger, we’re in a position where they are feeling good but there’s one more step to go [before they start games].”
Of more concern to the Chelsea boss—but potentially a bonus for Liverpool—is N’Golo Kante’s ongoing fitness worries.
The French midfielder has been one of the best players in the Premier League over the last few seasons, but only appeared off the bench at Old Trafford and actually picked up another injury in that time on the pitch.
“Kante on bench [against United] was purely because of injury. He wasn’t ready but I’m very aware of his importance to Chelsea. He picked up another small injury and we are assessing it with regards to tomorrow.
“It’s a small injury which we’re concerned with and we’ll make a decision this evening.”
Even with those injuries keeping out regular starters, Chelsea have enough talent to worry the Reds if they are at full tilt.
Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic, Pedro, Jorginho and a resurgent Ross Barkley comprise a support line which would be the envy of many when all in-form.
Lampard believes the talent is there to push Liverpool all the way in the Super Cup, though acknowledges the Reds are also there on merit.
“I’m optimistic because I believe in the players and we deserve to be here, that’s the achievement of the club and players last year.
“But I also understand the quality of the opposition, they deservedly won the Champions League and have a fantastic manager and group of players. If we play to our maximum we can win.
“We have to respect the challenge of the opponent, Liverpool are different to United. There may be subtle differences in approach but we need the intensity to win the ball back [whoever we face], that’s how I want my team to play.”
Potential Chelsea lineup: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Alonso; Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Barkley, Pulisic; Giroud.