Lampard expecting Lille to pose a tricky test for Chelsea young guns

Blues boss says midfielder Barkley ‘naive’ for being out in Liverpool in build up to game

Ross Barkley: the Chelsea midfielder was involved in an argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool on Sunday night.  Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP

Ross Barkley: the Chelsea midfielder was involved in an argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool on Sunday night. Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP

 

Frank Lampard has said that Ross Barkley was naive to go on a night out in the build up to a Champions League game after the Chelsea midfielder was involved in an argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool on Sunday.

Barkley has travelled to Lille for tonight’s Group H game but Lampard feels it was unprofessional of the England international to be out three days before a match in which Chelsea need to respond to opening their European campaign with a home defeat by Valencia.

The 25-year-old admitted he made a mistake when he spoke to Chelsea’s manager yesterday morning. Reports claimed that Barkley was escorted to a cash machine by two police officers after spilling chips in a taxi and refusing to give the driver money for the mess.

“I don’t have to give permission on a day off to be in Liverpool,” Lampard said. “That’s not a problem. Liverpool is the least of my worries. It is only a few hours to get up there and back, especially when your family is up there. It is important for people to see them.

“He hasn’t broken a club code being out 48 hours before a game. The lads were given a day off on Sunday. He hasn’t committed a crime other than eating chips in the back of a cab, which is probably a bit out of order for the cabbie, but on a serious note what he has done from my point of view is be naive to be out on that evening in the build up to a Champions League game.

“He has admitted that. On a professional level, those are little things that shouldn’t happen. I like Ross. I have had absolutely no problem with him. He works hard and wants to do well. This morning he admitted to making a mistake. I will take that at face value and we move on.”

Lampard is hopeful that N’Golo Kanté will start against Lille, last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up, after the midfielder missed Saturday’s win over Brighton with a hamstring injury.

The 41-year-old went on to warn his players to maintain their focus at Stade Pierre-Mauroy. Chelsea paid for one defensive slip against Valencia, with their frustration compounded by Barkley’s late penalty miss, and Lampard will tell his young side that their hopes of reaching the last 16 will be in severe doubt if their concentration is not spot on.

“I thought Valencia wasn’t the worst game for us,” he said. “We played okay and should have got a result. It was a harsh lesson in switching off for a second and losing a match at this level. I think that idea ramps up even more when you travel in the Champions League and play away from home at stadiums like this against top European teams.

Big picture

“Lille have a lot of threats to us, particularly in attacking areas where they have a lot of speed and quality. It’s not the be all and end all, as in there are four more games after this. We have to see it in the big picture. But as we sit here now with no points from the first game, it’s a game we have to be very ready for to try and pick up something.”

Lampard’s faith in youth has been vindicated by the form of Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham this season and César Azipilicueta, one of Chelsea’s senior players, said the youngsters will need help from more experienced teammates during their first away game in the Champions League.

“We have to help everybody, especially the young boys who don’t have the experience, to help them play without fear,” the defender said.

“I’m sure that experiences like tomorrow night will help them to grow and to improve and hopefully we can keep having these kind of nights for a long time.”

Lille also have an inexperienced side and were beaten 3-0 by Ajax in their opening game. They have struggled for goals this season, having sold Nicolas Pépé to Arsenal in the summer, and their manager, Christophe Galtier, referred to Chelsea as a “complete team”.

There could be a familiar face in Lille’s attack, with the former Chelsea striker Loïc Rémy a contender to start against his old side.

The former West Ham centre-back, José Fonte, is another with Premier League experience and Galtier could also start the on-loan Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches, who failed to impress on loan at Swansea two years ago

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