The Blues have often been unable to use their full squad for training sessions with the season set to begin on Monday against Brighton
Frank Lampard has revealed that Chelsea had 10 or more players forced into quarantine during the club’s pre-season.
As the Blues ramped up preperations for the new campaign, some players including Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Emerson Palmieri were required to isolate amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
A number of players were forced to miss Chelsea’s only pre-season friendly match as clubs dealt with a gap of just over a month between Premier League seasons.
As Chelsea prepare to kick off their Premier League campaign on Monday against Brighton, Blues manager Lampard was critical of Uefa’s decision to put Nations League fixtures ahead of the new season and detailed his club’s unsettled pre-season preparations.
“It’s been disruptive,” Lampard said on a Zoom press conference to reporters. “In lots of ways, I’m very fortunate. I know we’re bringing in players we wanted to bring in and already we have a strong squad here.
“But we had a lot of quarantine, I think at one point it was double figures. So that knocked a lot of the training we could do in that first week and then I lost pretty much all the players to international break so I haven’t been able to work with them.
“So you’ve had to rely on international teams and games getting them fit. I’ve got a great relationship with all the managers of the players that go away like that so that hasn’t been a problem, but we haven’t actually had them in our hands, the players.
“So it’s been tough in a way but we have to forget that, it’s done, we’re together now. We know what’s in front of us, we know what games are coming up, we’re very excited to get started and that’s a good feeling. That’s the feeling I have and I think that’s the feeling the squad has.”
Indeed, many Premier League players have found themselves in similar situations to Chelsea players. While there are no accusations of breaking rules, players leaving on holiday has caused several to come down with Covid-19 and forced many others into quarantine.
Meanwhile, England have recently had issues as Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were sent home for breaking lockdown rules.
Lampard has reminded his team of their responsibilities ahead of the new season as he sees a natural relaxing of attitudes across the United Kingdom.
“I have addressed it with the players already,” he added. “I think it is something we all need addressing; this is a strange time in everybody’s life over the last months.
“We have seen that with how the government have spoken in some of the wording and messaging that has come out in the last week and I think it is important that we all have a little check as it is human nature slightly to relax as the situation changes.
“We will all do our best on that front. We all know the situation we are in, the procedures and protocols and we will try and adhere to them as much as we can considering a physical-contact team sport that we are doing.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea have been on an aggressive recruitment drive having spent around £200 million on new players including Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen, Ben Chilwell from Leicester City and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.
It has led to six new senior players coming in this summer which will ultimately lead to player sales and loan moves. Lampard was reluctant to talk about how he plans to cut a squad that currently sees the club carrying more than 40 senior players.
“We’ll see,” he added. “Yes, I have an idea in my head of where I want the squad to be. I’m not going to make any commitments right now of how we are going to get there. I just have to work about now what’s in front of me with Brighton for starters, and just try and pick the right team and squad for that game.
“We know the window is open until October 5 so we’ll address that as we go along if we feel it’s right, right for the club, me, and the players as well.”