Football News

Lampard welcomes “future selection problems” as James challenges Chelsea’s old guard

By Ben Green

Published: 14:48, 10 November 2019

Frank Lampard has welcomed impending “selection problems” after he dropped captain Cesar Azpilicueta for Reece James in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. 

The Blues ran out comfortable victors at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with James having a particularly impressive game against renowned ‘ankle-breaker’ Wilfried Zaha.

Who is Lampard’s main right-back? Five things to know…

  • Lampard recently dropped skipper Azpilicueta for academy graduate James on Saturday.
  • Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-0, with James having a solid game against Zaha.
  • His performance came after he netted the equalising goal in Chelsea’s 4-4 draw with Ajax.
  • The teenager is highly-regarded at Stamford Bridge but sustained an ankle injury earlier this season.
  • He has since returned and Lampard has now welcomed competition in the full-back areas.

The Ivorian trickster is one of the deadliest wingers any defender can face in the Premier League, but James stood up to the task well and has now provided Lampard with something of a future managerial headache after announcing himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful.

However, the Chelsea legend says he’s relishing the problems that could pose in regards to selection and has praised James for seizing his opportunity.

Asked whether it was a tough call to drop Azpilicueta, Lampard replied: “It is part of my job.

“It would be a tougher called if I was speaking to Azpilicueta when he is having a difficult time and I am bringing a kid in to say this is a decision I am making. It is actually a decision where Azpilicueta is playing really well for us.

“He is a leader and a driver but Reece and the way he is playing I thought with the opportunity to give him minutes in a game today was one I had to take.

“It gives me options going forward. Azpi is such a great personality and character that he is easy to speak to. He feels for the club and wants the best that shows how much I value him now and going forward.

“It might give me some selection problems going forward for sure but I want the best for the team squad for what we can do. It is a nice problem for me going forward.”

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“You can see how comfortable he is”

Lampard also took time to reflect on James’ individual performance against Zaha, believing the youngster provided, not only a defensive resilience, but also an attacking threat.

He said: “I thought Reece was fantastic against one of the best wingers in the league one-v-one. A real threat and on the counter-attack. Reece dealt with most of those situations and he also joined in the attack.

“You can see how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet and his delivery and passing so I was pleased. I trust in Reece and out of all of the younger players who have been getting his chance this year, he has had his injury earlier in the season.

“He has got fit that little bit later but he has been training at a level and coming on at a level where he deserves his minutes today. He did brilliantly.”