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Frank Lampard backs Chelsea kids on his biggest night as manager

When it comes to big nights at the Bridge, it’s fair to say Frank Lampard knows what he’s talking about.

Lampard the player would relish this; Chelsea head into their final Champions League group clash against Lille knowing only victory will guarantee their passage into the knockout stages.

As a manager, the anticipation of an all or nothing contest is no less attractive for the Blues legend.

Frank Lampard knows what he talks about ahead of a big Champions League night for Chelsea

The anticipation of an all or nothing contest is no less attractive for Lampard as a manager

The anticipation of an all or nothing contest is no less attractive for Lampard as a manager

What he wants to find out, though, is whether his fledgling players are on the same page.

Lampard’s assembled a young, vibrant and deeply impressive team – the adulation has certainly been valid.

But these are the kind of nights that put hairs on your chest. Lampard will testify to that.

‘These nights are crucial for the players because I think you can be defined as an individual and as a group by success and what success looks like,’ said Lampard.

‘And this means going into the next stage of the Champions League, which is a place we want to be in and a platform for the players to play.

‘I used to love big nights as a player and they are the ones that stick in your mind. So it’s opportunities now for this team, particularly the young players, to make a mark.

‘I think it’s good, I like the pressure of this game being a knockout and we are all talking about it. If we’re going to do anything good here then we are going to need lots of these nights.’

It’s the sort of occasion Lampard hopes he can experience more often at Chelsea.

Perhaps nothing will ever surpass that magical night in Munich seven years ago when Lampard captained Chelsea to Champions League glory.

Lampard drills his young players at Cobham ahead of their Champions League clash with Lille

Lampard drills his young players at Cobham ahead of their Champions League clash with Lille

Lampard captained Chelsea to their greatest achievement in the final in Munich in 2012

Lampard captained Chelsea to their greatest achievement in the final in Munich in 2012

Lampard’s at the start of his managerial journey – Tuesday night’s clash against Lille, arguably, the biggest night of his coaching career to date.

Of course, Derby supporters will argue to the contrary given their run to the Championship play-off final last season.

But this is the Champions League, this is the big time. That isn’t lost on Lampard.

‘Is this the most significant game since becoming a manager? Well yes,’ admitted the former England international.

‘The idea that we can get through to the next stage, of course, that makes it a big game. But the big games are coming thick and fast. I think it would be a good achievement (to qualify for the knockout stages).

‘I know there’s expectations we should get through a group, I get that, but it was a tough group a slightly young feel to our team.

‘The fact we lost our first game, there’s a few difficulties we’ve had, and I think we’ve dealt with them very well to get ourselves in this position.’ 

Lampard's Chelsea have hit a bump in recent weeks with just one win in their last five games

Lampard’s Chelsea have hit a bump in recent weeks with just one win in their last five games

The return of key defender Antonio Rudiger, who will be named in the Blues squad for the first time in four months arrives as a timely boost for Lampard — particularly following Saturday’s loss at Everton.

‘You only speak as you look at him and he looks fit and ready to go and I know he’s hungry,’ added Lampard.

‘In terms of the people building him up, probably rightly so. He’s a good defender. Everyone spoke about youth at the start of the season, I think people overlooked that we started the season with five big players all injured. 

‘Rudi is just back, let’s see what he can add to us now.’

Lampard is expecting to recall defender Antonio Rudiger for the first time in fourth months

Lampard is expecting to recall defender Antonio Rudiger for the first time in fourth months

Whether Lampard gambles by throwing his Germany international straight into his starting XI remains to be seen. Either way Rudiger’s welcome return to fitness comes at a crucial point in Chelsea’s season.

The fact they’ve won just one of their previous five games in all competitions shouldn’t cause Lampard sleepless nights just yet.

Failure here, however, and then Lampard will have reason to be restless.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk