Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Ross Barkley came off the bench to secure Chelsea a 1-0 victory at Leicester City and take Frank Lampard's side into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Lampard made three substitutions after an underwhelming first-half display and they changed the game for the Blues, with Barkley – one of those introduced – getting the decisive goal.

Leicester looked the better side in the opening period and appeared to have greater control of proceedings, though their final pass did not match up to promising build-up play.

Chelsea produced a marked improvement in the second half after Lampard tinkered with his team and Barkley ended the deadlock with a smart finish in the 63rd minute, earning his team a place alongside Manchester United and Arsenal in the last four.

Chelsea were guilty of a sloppy start, but Leicester lacked ruthlessness and did not call Willy Caballero into action until the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans saw his 20-yard effort turned wide.

Lampard's men had another couple of escapes soon after, as Harvey Barnes blazed high and wide before Jonny Evans failed to direct a free header on target from a free-kick.

But Leicester had to rely on Kasper Schmeichel to avoid going behind in the 30th minute, the Danish goalkeeper producing a fine reaction save to deny Christian Pulisic.

A seemingly unimpressed Lampard made three alterations at half-time and it led to an improvement – Tammy Abraham finding the net in the 55th minute, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

A Ben Chilwell cross hit the crossbar at the other end, but that was a momentary lapse in Chelsea's second-half domination and they deservedly went ahead just past the hour – half-time substitute Barkley expertly turning in Willian's low cross.

The Blues should have finished Leicester off on the break in the 89th minute, but Barkley's initial pass to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was poor and when the ball was returned to him the former Everton midfielder's shot was saved in unorthodox fashion by Schmeichel.

It had no impact on the result, however, as Chelsea head to Wembley.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea's depth serves them well

Few would have taken issue with Lampard's starting XI. After all, the three players taken off at half-time – Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James – are all fine prospects.

However, when it was not working out, Lampard was able to turn to the likes of Barkley and Mateo Kovacic on the bench, and both were very bright after coming on.

Where there's a Willian, there's a way

His days at Stamford Bridge may be limited, but Willian proved that he certainly still has his uses. Not only did he set up Barkley's winner, he exhibited his hard-working nature with a match-high five tackles.

Mount and Gilmour hooked

Chelsea endured a very poor first half and the performances of their midfielders appeared to contribute to that. Mount struggled to really influence matters in attack, while Gilmour was guilty of a few wayward passes that put his team in real trouble. It was not a surprise to see them both withdrawn at the break.

What's next?

Leicester go to Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Chelsea face London rivals West Ham the same day.

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic has the hunger and ability to become a regular goalscorer for Chelsea following his strike against Aston Villa.

Pulisic netted five minutes after being brought off the bench in Sunday's 2-1 comeback win at Villa Park as the visitors recovered from a goal down.

The United States international converted Cesar Azpilicueta's cross at the back post to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, before Olivier Giroud added a quickfire second.

And Lampard expects even more from a fit-again Pulisic, who was making his first appearance since New Year's Day after struggling with a groin issue.

"He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him as I felt for all the players with long-term injuries," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] was in the same position, but I know Christian was very hungry. He has trained well. The ability that he has got to arrive in the box is a big thing that I have spoken to him about all season. 

"It is the difference between being a very good player off-the-side as an attacking player or the players at the real top level of the game that arrive and score in the six-yard box and hit big numbers yearly. 

"I really think Christian can do that so I was pleased with the impact he made when he came on. He will start games for us, of course. I think he is going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in, but going forward."

Ross Barkley, another who has struggled with injuries, also made a big impression during his 35 minutes on the field and Lampard is pleased with the depth of his squad.

"The players who make the differences should always take all the credit. With Christian and Ross, they came on at the same time and have trained well," he said.

"They both had cases to start but I have some good selection problems. Then you have to consider the type of game and that fitness will play a part. 

"Bringing on Christian and Barkley early in the second half was always in my mind depending on how the game went. 

"The way it was going we needed a bit of inspiration, Christian with his goal and Ross did as well. I think it shows how important subs are."

Chelsea now hold a five-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United after winning away from home in the top flight for the first time in 2020.

Lampard, taking charge of his 100th game as manager, acknowledged the importance of picking up a victory in his side's first game back following the three-month hiatus.

"I am really pleased with the performance," he added. "Aston Villa had the chance to [play a game] once before us, but I think we moved the ball well during the game and dominated possession. 

"It's been a little bit of our story this season, dominating possession but the need to be more clinical. 

"I can definitely give the players some leeway on that one because of the long time off. We showed great quality and character to win the game. I am pleased with the win.

"I think it is important for the group because I think we have seen all the games are looking different. 

"It is an obvious statement with the crowds, but in terms of the actual detail of the games and the tempo, the matches, the tiredness factor that has been coming into them too.

"So we didn't know exactly what we were coming into today but now we have three points when some teams have lost points around us."

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

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 has ruled out a January exit from Chelsea for Ross Barkley, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is taking positive steps in his return to fitness.

Barkley was a regular for Maurizio Sarri last season but has made just six Premier League starts under Lampard, though a foot injury suffered in October ruled him out for almost two months.

A reunion with David Moyes, who handed him his top-flight debut at Everton in 2011, at West Ham had been touted, but the Blues boss was adamant the England international will not be leaving.

"There's no talk here of Ross Barkley going anywhere. He's our player. I've got a lot of faith in Ross. That's news I heard like everyone else this week," said Lampard.

Asked about other potential departures, Lampard said there has been no movement on a deal for Olivier Giroud, who is reportedly a target for Newcastle United – Chelsea's opponents on Saturday – Aston Villa and Inter, while Willian will be staying put and could extend his contract beyond this season.

"Olivier Giroud there may be something that can happen. He's experienced and I have a great relationship with him. If the circumstances fall right it might happen.

"Willian is not going anywhere. His contract is up at the end of the season but he's still in talks with the club."

Lampard remains open to potential incomings at Stamford Bridge but assured there was "nothing imminent".

However, his squad could be bolstered after the February break with Loftus-Cheek stepping up his recovery from an Achilles rupture that has ruled him out since May.

"He's training now with the Under-16s, Under-18s and then the Under-23s in a short space of time, which is good for us. The sooner he can be back with us the better," said Lampard.

"We're working in every way. There's a different look on his face, more smiley and happy. It's been tough. He's not one that's walked around head down creating a negative atmosphere, but it's a lonely place.

"He's integrating more towards us now. It can be forgotten we've missed a hugely influential player. If he can be training with us after the break he might not be far away."

Lampard added that Christian Pulisic is in line to return from a groin problem next month.

Manchester United will reportedly need to improve their offer to Sporting CP if they are to land Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes, 25, is linked with a January move to Old Trafford, but it seems talks are ongoing between the clubs.

The Premier League outfit will need to raise their offer to land Fernandes, with some distance seemingly still between the sides.

 

TOP STORY – SPORTING WANT €65M FROM MAN UTD FOR FERNANDES

Sporting want £55.4million (€65m) from Manchester United for Fernandes, according to TVI 24.

The report says United are offering £42.6m (€50m) plus bonuses for the midfielder.

With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, United are desperate to strengthen in midfield this month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Christian Eriksen could be nearing a move to Inter. The Tottenham midfielder's agent Martin Schoots had dinner with Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta on Thursday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tottenham must continue their search if they are to replace the injured Harry Kane this month. The Sun reports a possible move from Milan to Spurs for Krzysztof Piatek appears over and Tottenham are now looking at Porto forward Ze Luis or Napoli's Fernando Llorente, who left the club at the end of last season.

- Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare is deciding between Manchester United and Chelsea, according to Sky Sports, although no move is expected until after the Ligue 1 club face Paris Saint-Germain on January 26.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United will be offered Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani for free at season's end, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- West Ham's bid to sign Ross Barkley is not over yet. The Mirror reports the club will not give up on trying to land the Chelsea midfielder, who has made just seven Premier League appearances this season.

- Arda Turan remains contracted to Barcelona, but the midfielder knows where he wants to go next. The Turkey international is interested in signing with Boca Juniors, according to Sport, after terminating his loan agreement with Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this month.

David Moyes admitted he would be "interested" in any player he believes could improve West Ham, though he stopped short of confirming reported interest in Ross Barkley.

England international Barkley has been linked with a January loan move to the Hammers, who missed out on Gedson Fernandes after he joined rivals Tottenham on Wednesday.

Midfield is an area of need for West Ham given Jack Wilshere continues to be beset by injury problems and Barkley is thought to be of interest to Moyes.

Former Everton boss Moyes handed a 17-year-old Barkley his Premier League debut back in 2011 and was asked about the two linking up again at London Stadium.

"One thing I won't do is not talk about players at other clubs," Moyes said at a news conference.

"Anything which we think will improve our side I will be interested to bring in."

Barkley played 27 times in the Premier League for Chelsea last season under Maurizio Sarri but has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Frank Lampard's arrival.

He started Lampard's first Premier League game in charge, a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in August, but has made only five further starts in the top flight.

A foot injury suffered in October kept Barkley out for nearly two months, while the midfielder was also criticised by Lampard after two videos emerged - one of him arguing with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

On the field, Barkley scored four goals in six appearances for England in Euro 2020 qualifiers.

On the prospect of signing British players, Moyes added: "It's not easy to get British players.

"[It is] maybe easier to get a Premier League player or from abroad but still trying to get the right ones in is important.

"We are working on two or three things at the moment, but we are not close to anything."

West Ham have reportedly set an ambitious transfer window target by eyeing an England international.

Whether Chelsea can be tempted to let Ross Barkley leave Stamford Bridge remains to be seen.

According to reports, the Blues are reluctant to let David Moyes be reunited with his former Everton protege.

 

TOP STORY – MOYES TO MOVE FOR ENGLAND STAR BARKLEY?

New  West Ham  manager David Moyes is said to be targeting Chelsea's England midfielder Ross Barkley for a transfer-window switch across London. 

The Mirror reports the Hammers want to take Barkley on loan, but that Chelsea have given them no encouragement as yet. 

Barkley, who began his career playing for Moyes at Everton, started Chelsea's last match, the Premier League win over Burnley.

ROUND-UP

Atletico Madrid still want to bring Edinson Cavani to LaLiga, but negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain look complicated given each club's valuation of the Uruguayan striker. Marca reports Atletico have offered €10million and that PSG are seeking €30million for a player who is in the final six months of his contract.

- Dinamo Zagreb's rising star Dani Olmo could be on his way to Milan, according to Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti, which claims a €30m offer has been lodged. Spanish winger Olmo has impressed in the Champions League this year and won a first international cap. He was also linked with Barcelona earlier this month, but that interest has reportedly waned.

- Former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez  looks set to join MLS outfit LA Galaxy in the coming days. The LA Times reports talks between the Galaxy and Hernandez have taken place this week, with a view to bringing in the Mexican forward from LaLiga side Sevilla. The deal could see the Galaxy break their transfer record, which currently stands at a reported $7m for the signing of Giovani dos Santos four-and-a-half years ago.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims Roma and Milan have opened talks over a swap deal involving Cengiz Under and Suso.

Sevilla look to have the ideal replacement for 'Chicarito' on the way, with 22-year-old Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri reported to have agreed to join from Leganes. AS reports Sevilla will pay his €20m release clause, with a medical due to take place on Thursday before a possible debut against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Inter are still waiting on possible deals for Tottenham's Christian Eriksen and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, with sporting director Piero Ausilio quoted by Corriere dello Sport as saying there was "no news" to report as he arrived back in Italy on Wednesday evening. "There are no updates," Ausilio said. "We trust the work we are doing with our coach and our players. If there is the possibility of improving the team even more, we will do it."

Callum Hudson-Odoi was Chelsea's star as Frank Lampard's side eased into the FA Cup fourth round with a 2-0 home defeat of Nottingham Forest.

Hudson-Odoi's sixth-minute opener at Stamford Bridge on Sunday got the Blues off to a flyer and Ross Barkley doubled their lead before half-time.

It was a welcome win for Chelsea, who had lost three of their past four home games in the Premier League.

Second-tier side Forest, who were much changed, were unable to lay a glove on the eight-time winners.

Chelsea, who also knocked Forest out at this stage last year, opened the scoring early on.

Quick build-up play led to Hudson-Odoi being fed on the right, with the England international cutting inside and firing a low finish through the legs of Yuri Ribeiro to beat Jordan Smith.

The Championship side were awarded a penalty in the 22nd minute when Alex Mighten was bundled over by Fikayo Tomori, but a VAR check showed the lively 17-year-old was offside.

Chelsea then doubled their lead, Smith parrying Hudson-Odoi's powerful drive, with Barkley arriving late to tuck home the rebound at the back post.

A third almost arrived on the hour-mark, Smith making a great save to tip Barkley's header onto the post after Hudson-Odoi opened up the Forest defence once more.

Ryan Yates then had a close-range header ruled out for offside at the other end.

Teenage defender Tariq Lamptey was given another cameo off the bench in the closing stages, when Chelsea almost got a third through Hudson-Odoi only for Smith to push his try wide with the final act of the game.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea still need to spend

Forest are going well in the Championship's top four, but Lampard may have expected more from some squad players who were given a chance to shine. It has been reported that Jadon Sancho, Wilfried Zaha and Moussa Dembele are among the Blues' January targets after their transfer ban was reduced on appeal.


Hudson-Odoi makes case for starts

One player who did impress was Hudson-Odoi, the 19-year-old providing a regular threat from the right wing.

He has only started three games in the Premier League this season but could have persuaded Lampard to trust him in the XI more often in the coming weeks.


Batshuayi draws a blank

Michy Batshuayi offered very little in a rare start up front and, with the Blues said to be hunting attacking reinforcements, he could not afford to have a quiet day.

Missing a good chance from another fine Hudson-Odoi cross epitomised his lack of confidence in front of goal. Batshuayi had scored 10 times for Chelsea in seven domestic cup games against lower-league opposition.


What's next?

Burnley visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday, when Forest go to Reading in the Championship.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham will be given "every possible chance" to make his return against Aston Villa on Wednesday, Frank Lampard has said. 

The 22-year-old came off at half-time of the Champions League draw with Valencia on November 27 with a hip injury.

As a result, he missed the 1-0 home defeat to West Ham at the weekend when the Blues failed to score in the Premier League for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

However, they could have their top scorer back when they host Villa, the club he spent last season on loan with.

"We're giving him every possible chance to be fit," Lampard said at a pre-match news conference.

"He's still got some pain in the area of the injury, [we will] make a judgement tomorrow.

"It's painful for him, so it's a pain threshold and whether it affects his movements. So I wouldn't want to commit today.

"He was in good form and with players that are important, you want to give them as much time.

"He's keen and we're trying our best to give him time, but if he's not ready we have to go in a different route anyway."


Midfielder Ross Barkley is likely to miss out again, though, with the England international having not played for Chelsea in almost two months due to an ankle injury.

The 25-year-old's comeback has been delayed due to illness, while defender Antonio Rudiger is still not ready to return from a groin problem.

"Ross has actually been sick," Lampard added.

"He was ill Sunday night, so he was in this morning but he's not recovered enough to be ready for the game.

"Rudiger is close, he's really stepped up his training, particularly in the last week.

"So we're hoping he'll be available in the next week to 10 days."

Frank Lampard says Chelsea have learned lessons from losing to Valencia at the start of their Champions League campaign.

Chelsea lost the opening game in Group H 1-0 to Valencia but will qualify for the next round if they beat the LaLiga side on Wednesday.

Lampard's side suffered a 2-1 away defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City at the weekend but prior to that game won seven games in a row on the road, including victories at Lille and Ajax.

The defeat to Valencia may therefore be seen as a turning point early in Lampard's reign, with the Chelsea boss backing his side to continue their recent improvement.

"I don't think it was them being raw, we have quality in this competition," he told a news conference on Tuesday. 

"The major feeling after the first game was the lesson that if you sleep for one moment you can lose. 

"We have shown moments where we have gone to tough places. The rules remain the same. It is a fantastic stadium to play football, but a difficult one.

"I believe in the group and the ability. I believe there is more to come. The loss in the first game has got us into this position. We have brought that knockout football earlier in the competition.

"The Champions League is the top level of European football. The prestige it holds. I loved playing in it. It is clear we want to be in this competition.

"I have watched a lot of Valencia, I expect a solid team. Having played in this stadium, it's not just the team. It's the support and atmosphere."

Chelsea are without Callum Hudson-Odoi, Marcos Alonso, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger, while Ross Barkley has not travelled with the squad.

The England midfielder was pictured topless in a Dubai nightclub during the international break having been involved in a late night row with a taxi driver earlier in the season.

"Two separate issues," said Lampard. "I backed him there and now.

"He showed a lack of professionalism. I don't think it is was a terrible thing he did.

"He has an injury, he has to work his way back in. I like Ross."

Antonio Rudiger and Ross Barkley took part in Chelsea training ahead of the Champions League trip to Valencia, but Callum Hudson-Odoi was absent.

Centre-back Rudiger has only featured once this season – in the 5-2 Premier League win at Wolves on September 14 – and underwent surgery on a pelvic injury this month.

The Germany international was involved in the section of training open to the media at Cobham on Tuesday, as was midfielder Barkley, who has been sidelined for five weeks with an ankle problem.

However, Hudson-Odoi sat out the session having not yet recovered from a hamstring complaint suffered while on international duty with England.

Chelsea take on Valencia on Wednesday at Mestalla knowing a win will secure their place in the last 16.

Frank Lampard's side are second in Group H after four matches, level on seven points with first-place Ajax and Valencia in third.

The Blues have never lost a competitive away game against Valencia, having won twice and drawn once in their previous three visits.

Ross Barkley and Tom Heaton have been ruled out of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers due to injury.

The pair will miss the fixtures against Montenegro and Kosovo, it was announced on Sunday.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson – on loan from Premier League side Manchester United – will replace Aston Villa's Heaton.

However, there is no replacement for England and Chelsea midfielder Barkley in Gareth Southgate's squad.

England are three points clear at the top of Group A as they prepare to host Montenegro on Thursday before travelling to Kosovo on November 17.

Frank Lampard says Chelsea will be "looking in the mirror" rather than worrying about how their potential Premier League title rivals fare this weekend.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, eight points behind leaders Liverpool but six clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

Liverpool face champions Manchester City, who are currently in second, on Sunday, presenting the opportunity for Chelsea and Leicester City - who are third - to make up ground on the top two.

And Leicester play Arsenal, meaning four of the top five will face off.

Yet head coach Lampard is determined his team will not be concerned by results elsewhere, keen to keep their focus on improving throughout the season.

"We're looking in the mirror at ourselves," he told a news conference ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Up and down are things you can't always control - what will be will be with those teams. They have their problems or strong points or whatever.

"What we have to do is look at ourselves week in, week out, look at Crystal Palace tomorrow, go away for the internationals, and then we come back and we play Manchester City. Every week brings the challenge of a game.

"At the moment, we're happy with what we've done but I think we can always get a lot better. That's the only way: I don't think we should look too much anywhere else, rather than within."

Chelsea are managing injury issues in the centre of midfield, with Ross Barkley out since the win over Newcastle United last month while Mason Mount hobbled off against Ajax in midweek.

Both players were named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming international break, yet Barkley will not feature at home to Palace, and Mount is a doubt.

"Ross has an ongoing issue, so he's not in the squad for tomorrow," Lampard said.

"It's a conversation I'll have with Gareth or Steve [Holland, England assistant] with Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next 10 days. I'm not sure on that one, but he won't be in our squad.

"With Mason, he's in the squad, and we're giving him another 24 hours. We'll make a call on that one in the morning [Saturday]."

Chelsea should at least have N'Golo Kante back after he returned to the bench against Ajax and was later named in the France squad. He has not featured since an injury in the previous international break.

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