Frank Lampard will warn his Chelsea squad they must be prepared to "suffer" as they attempt to upset the odds and knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.

The Premier League club host Bayern in the opening leg of the last-16 tie on Tuesday, with the return fixture at the Allianz Arena on March 18.

Chelsea will aim to capitalise on having home advantage in the first meeting, but Lampard acknowledges this will be a "level up" for some of his younger, less experienced players in Europe's leading club competition.

"We've got players with Champions League experience in this group, as well as younger players in the early stages of their careers, particularly in the Champions League," Lampard, who won the tournament as a player with Chelsea during his illustrious career, told the media on Monday.

"They have to understand why I keep talking about the levels going up, and what the mindset levels are. A big part of my job tomorrow is to explain to the players that over two legs, we need to be at our maximum.

"We must make sure every box is ticked in both games. We can't get caught up in game moments. After the game, we will probably suffer.

"Bayern Munich are an incredible side with the ball. They've got some really talented players who keep the ball and use the ball well. If we have to suffer, we have to suffer. That's our job over the next two games."

This will be a new challenge for Reece James and Mason Mount in particular, the duo having spent the previous season on loan at Championship clubs Wigan Athletic and Derby County respectively.

However, Lampard will continue to put faith in his youth movement as the Blues look to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

"I've got no doubts to start them. I trust in those two," the Chelsea head coach said. "I trust all the young players who have been part of the squad this year. That's a huge part of what we do here.

"The reason I trust them is because of the way they play, the way they train. I will speak to them.

"They've played big games but as I've mentioned before, it changes slightly when you get to the knockout stage. I'll certainly speak to all of my players, particularly the younger players about what that means."

Chelsea go into the game following a 2-1 league win Tottenham, who lost 7-2 at home to Bayern in the group stages of the Champions League.

Olivier Giroud started – and scored – in the weekend triumph over their London rivals, leaving Lampard with a decision to make over whether the France striker retains his place in the starting XI.

"I know I can rely on him," he said of Giroud. "He's professional, he's quality and he was great. He's given me a lot to think about."

Pedro is available again, but Lampard confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi – who is "not far away" from a return – and N'Golo Kante.

N'Golo Kante is set to miss up to five games during a vital spell in Chelsea's season as Frank Lampard's side prepare to host Jose Mourinho's Tottenham on Saturday.

Midfielder Kante has suffered several injury setbacks this season, the latest of which came when he was forced off after just 12 minutes of the defeat to Manchester United on Monday.

Blues boss Lampard confirmed a "muscle injury" for the Frenchman, putting his recovery at around three weeks, which would rule Kante out of the home Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, as well as the visit of Liverpool in the FA Cup and three Premier League fixtures.

"N'Golo is not fit. It's a muscle injury, similar to the one he came off against Arsenal [on January 21] with," said Lampard.

"It should hopefully be three weeks."

The news will come as a bitter blow for Chelsea, whose loss to United left them looking increasingly vulnerable in fourth spot.

Indeed, this weekend's visitors would overtake them with a win as former Stamford Bridge favourite Mourinho seeks a victory on his latest return to west London.

Lampard won two Premier League titles under Mourinho at Chelsea but does not see their personal duel as being pivotal in the outcome of a match that could have a big say in who qualifies for the Champions League.

"Our relationship changes," said Lampard. "I wished him well when he got the job and he wished me well. We are amicable but we want to win.

"I have got respect for him but I am not considering the personal battle between me and him. I am just trying to win the game."

The ex-England midfielder described the 2019-20 season as a "transitional" one for Chelsea and insisted injuries had made progress tougher.

Asked if missing out on the Champions League would represent a failure, Lampard said: "That is for everyone else to judge. The injuries have been a big issue. What we do know is we are in fourth and we have it in our hands. It is going to be tough. Teams around us are strong.

"This season is a transitional year, and fans appreciate that. Not many teams have had our injuries. Kante has played 50 per cent of the games.

"The fans respect that and they see what we try to do. They will be there to support us. It is tight at the moment and we need the fans behind us. The players will give everything."

N'Golo Kante's injury-hit campaign continued after the Chelsea midfielder was forced off early on against Manchester United on Monday.

Kante, who was out with a hamstring problem in January and missed several games earlier in the season with groin and ankle issues, made way after 12 minutes at Stamford Bridge. 

It was not clear what the problem was for the 28-year-old, who has made 18 Premier League appearances for Frank Lampard's team and was replaced by Mason Mount.

The injury comes ahead of important fixtures for Chelsea, who face Tottenham on Saturday and Bayern Munich in the first leg Champions League of their last-16 tie three days later.

Ross Barkley's reaction to a difficult 2019-20 season has been "spot on", according to Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard.

England international Barkley made 27 Premier League appearances for Maurizio Sarri in the previous campaign but has featured in the top flight just seven times under Lampard.

The 26-year-old, who the Blues boss insisted will not be leaving Stamford Bridge in January amid reported interest from West Ham, sustained a foot injury in October that sidelined him for two months.

He was also criticised by Lampard after a pair of videos emerged – one of him arguing over spilt chips with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

However, Barkley scored in the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win against Nottingham Forest on January 5 and completed the 90 minutes against Burnley, just the second time he has done so in the Premier League this season.

"There have been a couple of issues this year with Ross. He knows that and I know that," said Lampard.

"I think his training, in the last month particularly, has been absolutely focused. And let's factor in the injury he had which was really niggly. It was a difficult one for him because he was one foot in training and one foot out.

"He was training at a certain per cent to show he was there, but he clearly wasn't. I respected that because he was trying.

"Now that's cleared up and he is showing his qualities, particularly against Burnley. So that's great news for all of us.

"We had a couple of chats around those things. As I said at the time, I really like Ross and in my career, I had moments where I did things that I slightly regretted.  It's what you do to get out of them that's really important. 

"And Ross' reaction in the past month has been spot on, in terms of how he is around the place. I'm a great believer in that how you train relates to how you play, and he has shown that."

Lampard acknowledged the modern era makes it difficult for off-field incidents to go unnoticed but believes professionalism is of paramount importance.

"My biggest concern was not really the bag of chips [in the Liverpool taxi incident], it was more the fact that we were training the next day," said the Blues boss.

"That is exactly where I see it and Ross knows that and I am not one to tell my lads, 'Don't have a bag of chips, don't have a few beers after you win a game.'

"Just make sure that when you think about the big scheme [of things], you do it with the idea you have to train and perform at a level and, as the game has moved forward and the speed and intensity of it even more so from my day and from eras gone by, the players have to be absolutely tip-top or this game will find you out.

"That's not just a thing to Ross, that is to all the players about how they live their life."

Barkley's return to the starting line-up was aided by a hamstring injury to N'Golo Kante, but the France international could make his first appearance since January 1 against Newcastle United on Saturday.

"He's had a few issues through the week. I think it's a decision I have to make with absolute certainty but at the minute it looks like he's good to go," added Lampard.

Frank Lampard is hopeful N'Golo Kante will make a swift return from the hamstring problem that ruled him out of Chelsea's 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday.

Kante's fellow midfielder Jorginho opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi got in on the act.

Chelsea remain in the final Champions League qualification place, five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, and Lampard knows how important it will be to have his France international back fit and firing.

"I'm hoping short-term. He actually got through training but had an awareness of it," the Blues boss told BBC Match of the Day after Kante's absence unhelpfully coincided with speculation linking him to Real Madrid.

"It didn't break down as such. It's something we'll have to look at in the week ahead.

"We know how important he is for us and he's played so many games over the years regularly.

"This year, not so much – which is unfortunate for everybody here. So we'll look after him and hopefully it's not too long."

Kante has missed eight of Chelsea's 22 Premier League matches so far this term, having been hampered by a series of minor issues.

Christian Pulisic was another injury victim in training at Cobham this week, suffering tendon damage.

The United States' attacker being sidelined created the opportunity for Hudson-Odoi to start and score his first Premier League goal.

"Callum did very well. The urgency of his game, being on the edge, making runs and getting at people – so positive," Lampard added.

"Those are the things that he needs to do, keep working on that. We know the talent he's got."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

N'Golo Kante says he rebuffed interest from Paris Saint-Germain because he is happy at Chelsea.

Ligue 1 champions PSG have long been linked with the France international and reportedly tried to sign him following his impressive displays at the 2018 World Cup.

The move never materialised and Kante, considered one of the Premier League's best midfielders, is now in his fourth season at Stamford Bridge.

He signed a new five-year contract with the club in November 2018 and has no plans to leave.

"Sometimes you don't really know where you want to go, but you know what you already have," Kante told Canal+ when asked about PSG's interest.

"I knew I was at Chelsea and I felt good at Chelsea. On top of that, it was a footballing decision.

"I felt good in London and I felt happy in this project and therefore I am happy to stay here."

Kante joined Chelsea in 2016 following a season with Leicester City, where he won the first of his two Premier League titles.

The 28-year-old scored for the third time this season in the Blues' 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.

If winning ugly truly is a mark of champions, Manchester City's Premier League title challenge is very much alive.

After losing to Liverpool two weeks ago and then watching yet another late winner from Jurgen Klopp's relentless Reds at Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday, City's task against Chelsea was straightforward: don't give the leaders any more reason to believe.

Pep Guardiola's message before the game was simple, too, as the task of hauling in Liverpool was laid bare: "We have two options – give up or don't give up." Against Chelsea, they flirted with the former before choosing the latter.

Quite what the message to Benjamin Mendy was is another matter, though, and one that could have deeper implications when the title race enters its more decisive months.

Chelsea, of course, came to Etihad Stadium in buoyant mood - quite the contrast to the way they left it last season after a 6-0 humiliation of a kind rarely experienced, certainly since Roman Abramovich laid down roots in London. But this is a different Chelsea: a team playing with few expectations, bursting with confidence and chasing an eighth away win in a row in all competitions for the first time.

More to the point, there was a plan: get after Mendy. Not included against Liverpool for "tactical reasons", Mendy was part of the Chelsea blueprint from the off. Willian attacked relentlessly down the right and N'Golo Kante often joined him. With Raheem Sterling unwilling to track back, Rodri was dragged to the left to provide cover.

That was how Chelsea struck.

Mateo Kovacic played a one-two with Jorginho on halfway, and Kante set off, a diminutive whirlwind surging through the middle of the sky blue shirts onto the Kovacic pass. Rodri, out of position, did not track him; Fernandinho, emergency centre-back again, could not. Kante finished well under pressure from Mendy, who had belatedly realised the danger. It was Chelsea's second and final shot on target.

Chelsea deserved their lead. Beating City requires a careful plan and the hope of an off-day from Guardiola's men and, boy, they had that in the first half-hour. Kante has not been transformed by Frank Lampard - nobody should forget how Maurizio Sarri was often pilloried for playing the France star further forward - but he has embraced this idea of unleashing the former Leicester City man. In terms of average positions, Kante ended the first half the furthest forward of any Chelsea player. He was a weapon deployed with astute precision.

City, meanwhile, were alarmingly poor. Whatever the end result, Guardiola teams can normally be guaranteed to have more possession and run that little bit harder than their opponents. After 45 minutes, they had had 45 per cent of the ball and been outsprinted 56-50.

And yet, they were winning.

Kevin De Bruyne was wayward with his early passing but it soon became clear that, if it was going to happen for City, it would happen through him. It duly did 29 minutes in, De Bruyne dummying Jorginho and finding the net via the well-placed studs of Kurt Zouma, all after Fernandinho waded back into more comfortable midfield waters to steal possession.

For all their own problems at left-back, City identified the same weakness in Chelsea, a team who, exciting as they are, have kept only three clean sheets in the league under Lampard. Emerson Palmieri was tasked with dealing with Riyad Mahrez and simply never managed it. When he asked for help from Kovacic, they were equally obliging in allowing Mahrez to cut into the box on his left foot and finish in supreme style.

Mahrez was the main threat after the break, a clever corner giving Joao Cancelo a chance to score before a brilliant Kepa Arrizabalaga save denied him a second goal of his own. He would have had a late assist for Sterling but for a correct VAR intervention for offside.

A Chelsea comeback never really looked on and City had control once Ilkay Gundogan was introduced, even if they ended with the lowest possession figure, 46.7 per cent, that Guardiola has seen in 381 league matches in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

They are back into third, nine points behind Liverpool, with a slight hop in their step if not quite a spring. Never mind the gap, as David Silva said on Friday; City have overturned them before.

But there is a nagging doubt about Mendy, about how he impacts the team as a whole and whether he is worth the gamble, that is more difficult to ignore.

Benjamin Mendy has been handed a recall for France's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania.

The Manchester City full-back was given the nod over Real Madrid counterpart Ferland Mendy when France's squad was announced on Thursday.

Coach Didier Deschamps named a 23-man selection which includes Kylian Mbappe, who has not featured for his country since June amid injury problems.

Similar issues have hindered Benjamin Mendy, though to a much greater extent, the former Monaco star having required knee surgery during his stop-start time at the Etihad Stadium.

Benjamin Mendy last appeared at international level in the Nations League last September.

Nabil Fekir, who was absent for the previous two international matches, also returns, and N'Golo Kante is included.

Injury meant midfielder Kante could not feature in the previous international break, though he did not return to Chelsea until after the second fixture, frustrating Frank Lampard.

There is no place in the squad for Barcelona duo Ousmane Dembele or Samuel Umtiti, while Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and Lucas Hernandez are all sidelined. 

France sit joint-top of Group H alongside Turkey, boasting a four-point lead over third-placed Iceland with two matches remaining.

Moldova visit the Stade de France on November 14, and France conclude their qualifying campaign in Albania on November 17.
 

France squad: Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea); N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed N'Golo Kante is available for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Ajax.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

After missing five games for the Blues, he returned to training on Monday and is in consideration for the visit of Dutch champions Ajax to Stamford Bridge.

Lampard told a media conference: "He is in the squad. It looks like the injuries are clearing up."

The Chelsea boss, however, was unable to confirm when Antonio Rudiger might return to first-team action.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

Chelsea are level with Ajax on six points at the top of Group H, with Valencia two points further back.

 

Frank Lampard denied Antonio Rudiger is fit to return for Chelsea, revealing the Germany centre-back is set to see a consultant on Monday.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

The 26-year-old was widely reported as saying he was "itching" to play after returning to fitness following the groin issue suffered against Wolves.

However, Lampard insisted Rudiger will not be available for Saturday's meeting with Watford and there is no timetable for his return.

"He's not fit. I saw the quotes, whether there was a miscommunication I don't know," said the Chelsea head coach.

"He's going to see a consultant on Monday because he's got an ongoing issue in the pelvic area. We'll have to wait for the appointment to see how long he'll be out. I was surprised by the quotes because he's not fit."

Lampard had more positive updates on N'Golo Kante and Ross Barkley, both of whom he said could "possibly" return to face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"Every player in the squad that's not available is disappointing but it comes with the territory. [Rudiger] and N'Golo have had a domino effect in injuries from last season," said Lampard. "N'Golo's close, he's working with the team now.

"Ross Barkley is still not quite right and he's another possibly answer, but he's not far away. Andreas Christensen is pretty much fit as well. It's the finishing touches now."

Watford are winless at the bottom of the Premier League this season but Lampard warned the Blues, who saw a run of seven straight victories end with a 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, against complacency.

Asked if the circumstances made the meeting with Watford more dangerous, Lampard replied: "Without a doubt. I'm very much of that mindset.

"First, I look at us, and since we've been on the winning run, the game became more dangerous because of the idea of overconfidence.

"We saw what Watford did last year and the personnel are very similar. We cannot underestimate a team that will be hurting because they haven't won for a while."

Frank Lampard is pleased with Chelsea's progress since a heavy opening defeat to Manchester United as the two teams prepare to meet again on Wednesday.

Lampard's first competitive game in charge of Chelsea ended in a painful 4-0 loss at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the Premier League season in August.

The Blues endured a slow start to the campaign but have since found their feet, winning their last seven matches in all competitions ahead of the EFL Cup clash with United at Stamford Bridge.

"It feels a million miles," Lampard said at Tuesday's news conference when reflecting on the last time the clubs faced each other.

"I'm not disregarding it - they hurt us four times in a game we played particularly well in.

"We're improving, that's the main thing. It's what we've been striving for and it's pleasing to see good signs.

"I try not to listen to too much talk about the future. If we do that there would be problems. It's nice we're working in a good direction."

Chelsea's current winning run started with a 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby Town in the last round and Lampard is aiming for EFL Cup silverware with his young group of players.

"We'll target all the trophies," he said. "We want to win every game but we're up against a top opponent tomorrow. Every game you have to give everything to try and win.

"A day at Wembley should never be taken likely. But not just for the young boys. We'll give it our all."

While Chelsea have improved following a sluggish opening to Lampard's reign, United have struggled for consistency and are seven points behind their next opponents in the Premier League.

Lampard will rotate his squad following the 4-2 win at Burnley last time out, though he confirmed N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger remain absent for the midweek fixture.

"I don't want to talk about United too much, but since the first game our points total has been nice," he said. "It's not worth focusing on United other than to say they are full of top players. People shouldn't be too critical of other clubs.

"In terms of changes, I've got to be aware that we haven't changed that much. This game may see opportunities for players who haven't been getting minutes.

"I wanted to play every game as a player but on this side, you see things slightly differently. Demands on players are more. I won't take this game lightly even if I make changes.

"If players do step out of the line-up with a view to the coming weeks it's about the big picture. I understand how players are, but those who start will give everything and those who don't will support them hugely. 

"It helps they are playing well. That's the nice feeling around at the minute. They are playing and I have to take that into account about rest."

Chelsea have no timeframe for N'Golo Kante's return from a groin injury, with Frank Lampard stating they are taking a measured approach to restoring his fitness.

Kante has struggled with a series of injuries since April, the latest of which he sustained during the warm-up ahead of France's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

The midfielder sat out last weekend's 1-0 home win over Newcastle United and Wednesday's Champions League victory against Ajax and will not be available for the trip to Burnley on Saturday.

Lampard has no intention of rushing Kante back because he does not want him to suffer another setback in his quest to return to regular action.

"N'Golo won't be ready, he's training on his own with some physical work because he's had some physical issues. We need to get him right now because he's been in and out this season," said the head coach, who confirmed Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Ross Barkley remain sidelined.

"I just want him fit. He's played a lot of football for the past four years, he's had a big injury off the back of last year. Now it's time to take a small step back and get his fitness up.

"He had a bad injury, he hadn't played since April. This is the fall-out of last season's injury for us. We've lost Ruben, we've lost Rudi and we've lost Kante."

A transfer ban has forced Lampard to utilise Chelsea's academy products, with Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori making the most of the opportunities handed to them.

Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who in September returned from a serious Achilles injury, have signed new long-term contracts at Stamford Bridge and Lampard would like to see Abraham and Tomori follow suit.

"Of course I do [want them to stay], but that is out of my remit," said Lampard. "The club know I love the players.

"I brought them into the team this season and they are doing particularly well, but I leave contract situations to the club. They are playing really well and I want them to stay."

Chelsea are awaiting a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over their appeal against their two-window ban from signing players.

Lampard suggested the Blues would be open to improving the squad in January if the sanction is reduced.

"I don't know if we can, it's not in my hands. I wouldn't want to speculate … we're just concentrating on what's ahead of us in terms of the squad we've got now," he said.

"A club like Chelsea will always be looking at improving the squad if there's a chance of bringing players in, but at the moment I don't know the answer."

Chelsea will be without Ross Barkley, N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Ajax, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

The Blues face Ajax in Amsterdam having claimed three points from their first two games and they will be well aware of the test Erik ten Hag's men pose.

Injuries will make Chelsea's challenge even trickier against opponents who have won successive games at the start of the group stage, as Barkley, Kante and Rudiger are all absent from the squad.

Kante suffered a groin injury on international duty with France, Barkley sustained a "nasty" ankle problem against Newcastle United on Saturday and Rudiger is still out with a pelvic issue.

Lampard expressed concern for Barkley after the Newcastle win, though he expects the England midfielder to be back in training this week.

"They're obviously all not here," Lampard told reporters. "Ross will hopefully be fit to train by the time we get back on Thursday.

"Rudiger has trained with us today [Tuesday], which is part of a small programme to have him fit. He's going to be out of contention for the weekend but hopefully soon [he'll be back].

"N'Golo similarly, he's training but we'll see how he is for the weekend. Not clear yet on that one."

Chelsea head into the match having won five on the spin in all competitions, with much of the squad hitting form.

Lampard has an abundance of talent on the flanks in particular and has recently been encouraged by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who starred at the weekend and could make his first Champions League start.

"I think he is [ready] but so are other players," Lampard added. "There comes my problem for selection for games because I have a competitive squad of players that some are fresh to the Champions League, some have been before.

"Isolating Callum, I thought his performance against Newcastle showed huge signs of what we want to see. 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 and running behind people. All those things are what we all know Callum has as a young talent.

"There's no guarantees there, but 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."

N'Golo Kante will miss Chelsea's Premier League clash with Newcastle United, with Frank Lampard expressing frustration he did not come back from international duty with France earlier.

Kante sustained a groin injury in the warm-up for France's Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Iceland and did not return to Chelsea until after Les Bleus' game with Turkey on Monday.

France coach Didier Deschamps had joked ahead of the qualifiers that Lampard could consider playing striker Olivier Giroud more often, having revealed the Chelsea boss had spoken to him about not selecting Kante.

However, while Lampard was able to see the funny side of that comment, he was far from amused with the way the world champions handled the situation around Kante's injury.

"Before the international break, Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Giroud and that was light-hearted and I get it. We all have our selection problems, he had his in the two games," Lampard told a news conference.

"But the Kante one was not a laughing matter because we communicated before the last international break, because he was injured he couldn't go.

"Let's think of what benefits [there are] to play, he didn't go, we both agreed on that. That's how things should work.

"After the first game when he pulled out, he then had a fitness test the day before the second game, it was clear he couldn't play. He then sat on the bench the evening of the game, so that's not communication.

"I understand that when a player is on international duty that they are their players, but it was clear that he wasn't fit."

While Kante will be reduced to the role of spectator for the visit of the Magpies, Lampard may be able to call on Mateo Kovacic in the midfield, though Andreas Christensen (hamstring) and Antonio Rudiger (groin) are out.

"Kovacic had a knock on his thigh but has trained the last couple of days so he's in contention," said Lampard.

"Andreas Christensen has got a hamstring injury which will see him out for the next two weeks.

"Rudiger is training outside with the physios, which is a progression for him. He had a tough injury with some stop-start [features], which has been unfortunate for everybody.

"But he's outside, it's positive - a bit of work to be done for him for match fitness but it's really positive for us that he's outside."

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