‘I have selection problems and they’re good ones’: Frank Lampard hails impact of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic ahead of Ajax clash, as he challenges his youngsters to make the most of ‘tiny moments’ in the Champions League
- Chelsea are in Amsterdam to face Ajax on Wednesday in the Champions League
- Frank Lampard admits he faces a selection headache ahead of the group game
- Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic are both pushing for starting berths
Frank Lampard has urged his young Chelsea players to absorb the ‘tiny moments’ in the Champions League as he admits competition for places leaves him with a ‘problem’.
Lampard’s side are in Amsterdam to take on last year’s semi-finalists Ajax on Wednesday night.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic are both pushing to be involved from the start and Lampard admits that both have made compelling cases in the build-up.
‘I think for all the young players, the extra level that the Champions League is, in terms of detail, focus, concentration for 90 minutes, making the most of tiny moments, will be a test for all the young players, not just Callum,’ Lampard told reporters.
‘I have selection problems and they’re good ones when people come on and make a difference.
‘That’s what we have to be about if we want to be a team that is competing at the top end.’
Chelsea are third in Group H after the opening two rounds of matches, having lost at home to Valencia before beating LOSC Lille away last time out.
Unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, Chelsea are in good form and Hudson-Odoi, who got the assist for the winning goal against Newcastle on Saturday, is beginning to find the form he showed at the end of last season, having fought his way back to fitness.
‘I thought his performance against Newcastle showed huge signs of what we want to see,’ Lampard added, effusive in his praise of the England international. ‘We know the talent there. It’s great his contract is signed now, weeks ago.
‘I thought the problems he gave Newcastle consistently were things that I really want to see from him which are end product, delivery into the box, getting at people, running behind people, all those things are what we all know Callum has as a young talent.’
Lampard has favoured a 4-3-3 system since he took over from Maurizio Sarri with Tammy Abraham the first-choice No 9 and Willian a regular down the right. That has left real competition down the left since the summer departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
While it was ‘impossible’ for Chelsea to get a like-for-like replacement, Lampard insists he is trying to change the mentality to take the onus off one individual player.
‘Whether I became manager or not, Eden Hazard was not going to be replaced by anyone anywhere near similar to what he did for this club,’ the Chelsea boss added.
‘I don’t think it was possible, unless you went to the absolute top with the Messis and Ronaldos, because I think Eden pushes him around that bracket.
‘The next question is how do we change that? Of course we’ve seen a bit of youth come through with different ideas. I work consistently on the team as a group that we can create chances from different areas of the pitch. It’s great that a left-back scored inside the box at the weekend, for instance.
‘So it will be hard to replace him. It’s impossible. But as a team we can find a way and hopefully we’re working towards that.’
Ajax are top of the group standings after two matches and with a double-header against Chelsea, they know victory on Wednesday night can see them take a big stride towards securing a place in the knockout stages.