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Chelsea

Lampard says Pulisic available for Chelsea but Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi ruled out of Everton clash

14:50 GMT 10/12/2020
Ziyech Pulisic Hudson-Odoi Chelsea
The Blues boss detailed the situation, revealing that he is still managing the hamstring complaint suffered by his USMNT star

Frank Lampard continues to be without two of his Chelsea wingers in Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who both have minor hamstring injuries, but Christian Pulisic is fit to face Everton on Saturday.

Pulisic has struggled for fitness since he tore his hamstring in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal. The 22-year-old's return is being carefully stage-managed after another setback saw him miss a month with injury in November.

With both Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi out as wide options, Lampard revealed that he withdrew Pulisic from the midweek Champions League match with Krasnodar as a precaution.

"Christian is a work in progress," Lampard said ahead of a trip to Goodison Park. "I don't want to call this an injury that he had in midweek. If the game had been a different type of game, then maybe I would have used him.

"We know his abilities and that's very clear. He showed them when he came on against Leeds in midweek. I just have to find the best way of getting it out of him consistently. Christian had a tiny bit of awareness off the back of the Leeds game on one of his hamstrings but he's training normally, so we should be as we were.

"Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are out for around a couple of weeks."

Unlike some of their rivals, Chelsea have stayed relatively injury-free in recent weeks with a big squad allowing them to navigate their domestic and European competitions.

However, the upcoming Christmas run of fixtures looks set to challenge even Lampard's vast resources with five league games in 16 days throughout the rest of December.

"It's important and it's why it was very good for us to win our group in the Champions League and get a confidence boost and put that away until it starts again in the new year to focus on a busy schedule," Lampard added.

"If you look at our next four games - Everton, we go to Wolves, we have West Ham and then Arsenal on Boxing Day - you see how challenging that is in a short space of time because they all have strong teams.

"It's important to focus and for the squad to understand this Premier League is so tough and unforgiving that if we drop our standards, we won't be where we want to be. The focus is all on the Premier League."

Everton had been top of the table in the early part of this season, but now the Premier League is taking a more familiar pattern with five of the big six clubs at the summit, along with Leicester City.

Chelsea are now widely regarded as Premier League title contenders as they sit just two points behind both Tottenham and Liverpool but Lampard isn't sure whether his side have exceeded expectations already.

"It was really hard to have clear expectations because of the variables at the start of the season - Covid, pre-season, new signings, some injuries," he said. "I didn't know how that would pan out.

"We didn't have enough time where we would normally have a long pre-season to factor these things in and try to work through them, but we didn't. It was slightly false at the start of the season for us, some of the performances and the results and at the moment we're getting very good performances and results.

"The reality is probably somewhere in the middle of that and we need to find the consistency going forward. I'm not sure where we are against expectation. I always want more, that's just where I am."