Nordsjaelland v Chelsea: Lampard still ‘very important’ – Di Matteo
Nordsjaelland v Chelsea: Roberto Di Matteo insists Frank Lampard is still an important part of his plans this season
Roberto Di Matteo insists Frank Lampard is still a “very important” player for Chelsea, despite the midfielder not having started a game in two weeks.
Lampard, 34, has made just one substitute’s appearance since the Blues were held to a 2-2 draw by the Serie A champions.
But the Chelsea boss insists the England international remains a key part of his plans ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland in Copenhagen.
“He is a very important player for us. I’ve had conversations with him, which I do on a regular basis,” said Di Matteo.
“I like to exchange opinions and he is very supportive of the team when he is not in it, and when he is in it he is a great performer.
“We’re fortunate to have a very strong squad with very good players. Going forward with a busy schedule it’s important we can use these players.”
Di Matteo also brushed off suggestions that Lampard may be restricted to a deeper holding role as a result of his advancing years.
“He’s been playing that role but I don’t think I’ve ever taken [the forward running] away from him or said he’s not allowed to,” the Chelsea boss added.
“It’s his strength, but in that role sometimes we need to be disciplined and it’s important for the balance of the team. He’s played magnificently last season and this season too so there are no concerns about him.”
Nordsjaelland v Chelsea: Pre-match facts
• Nordsjaelland are one of three clubs making their debut in the group stage this season, along with Montpellier and Málaga.
• None of the Nordsjaelland squad had played in the Champions League before this season.
• Chelsea became the fifth successive Champions League holders to draw their opening game of the following season on matchday one. The previous four all then recorded wins, scoring a combined 14 unanswered goals in the process.
• Oscar became the first player to score twice on his Champions League debut for Chelsea, and the first man to hit two against Juventus in the competition since Galatasaray’s Hakan Şükür in 2003.