Ziyech ready for Chelsea debut – Lampard

Frank Lampard has confirmed that Edouard Mendy will miss Chelsea’s clash with Southampton on Saturday, but Hakim Ziyech is ready to make his debut for the club.

Goalkeeper Mendy suffered a thigh injury while away with Senegal in the match against Ziyech’s Morocco, which was the winger’s first competitive game since injuring his knee in a pre-season friendly with Brighton.

Ziyech has still yet to make his debut since his £37 million (€40m/$47m) move from Ajax, but Lampard confirmed that he would be on the bench at the weekend.

There was mixed news elsewhere as the demands of international football mean that Thiago Silva will miss out, but Ben Chilwell is fine after withdrawing from the England squad.

“Mendy won’t be fit for the match tomorrow, we hope the injury’s not too long,” Lampard at his pre-match press conference.

“Thiago Silva after his trip and back, he’s not unfit but he’s not ready to play the game because of the travelling and the game that he played. So he won’t be in the squad.

“Ben Chilwell is in the squad, so he’s got over some of the feeling he had that took him out of the England squad around the injury. He’s had it for a while now. Christian Pulisic is in the squad and fit to play, Hakim Ziyech in the squad, he’s not fit to start but fit to participate for some minutes we hope.”

Pulisic has yet to start a game this season but appeared from the bench in Chelsea’s emphatic 4-0 win over Crystal Palace just before the international break.

With Mendy out, Lampard refused to be drawn on whether Kep Arrizabalaga or Willy Caballero would replace him.

Still, he is excited to see Ziyech make his debut for the club having signed him back in February after the Blues activated his release clause from the Eredivisie champions.

“We brought Hakim here and it feels like a long time ago now, but he also hasn’t played since the Dutch league finished due to the lockdown,” Lampard said. “It’s a long time and he’s worked so hard, he’s been fantastic in terms of his professionalism to get fit, and he looks really good in training.

“I’ve got a really open relationship with him to know where he’s at, and how I feel about it. So it’s just game minutes that we need now.

“Of course, I’m excited to get him in and around it, to bring what we brought him to the club for which is the opportunity to create chances for us, to be the talented player that he is and we saw at Ajax and I look forward to seeing him play.”

Ziyech now comes in to compete with a forward line that boasts a huge number of options including Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. That might lead to players being left out on a regular basis but Lampard thinks it is the depth level needed for his side to compete on all fronts this season.

He said: “Any team that wants to compete towards the top of the league and in the Champions League needs more than one player per position. It needs to be competitive across the front area. We had it last year.

“We lost Willian, we lost Pedro, we lost Batshuayi. We’ve brought players in for the same level of competition in terms of numbers and I feel like the quality levels of the players we brought in, of course, you want to improve.

“It’s up to the players of course in terms of their performance and at the same time, it gives me a nice problem in terms of selecting players we can hopefully use through the season and options to come off the bench. I’m happy with what some people might call a problem in that area.”

When pushed about the status of Toni Rudiger, who almost left Chelsea in the transfer window, Lampard said the door remains open for him to earn minutes on the pitch and save his career at the club.

“Every player can play their way into the starting XI, the squad, that’s in every players’ hands and how I try to work here,” he said. “Toni is the same as every other player on that one.”

Source Goal.com
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