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Lampard: Pulisic has the quality to hit the ground running ahead of Premier League debut

22:30 BST 10/08/2019
Christian Pulisic Chelsea 2019-20
The winger has been given a vote of confidence as he prepares to make his Blues debut in the league's biggest stadium

Frank Lampard has given Christian Pulisic a vote of confidence as the winger looks set to make his Chelsea debut against Manchester United on Sunday. 

The Blues manager inherited the U.S. international after Chelsea signed him in January for £58 million from Borussia Dortmund, and he was then loaned back to the German side for the rest of the season.

Lampard has since taken over as Chelsea boss and is set to give the 20-year-old his debut on Sunday at Old Trafford. He believes the American is ready after working with him in pre-season, though he also cautioned he could take some time to adapt. 

"He has good ability, can beat a man, nice touch," Lampard said at Cobham Training Centre. "He scored a couple of good goals in pre-season when he ran in behind defences, which is what I really want from my wingers or attacking players.

"We also have to give it time because of his youth. Changing leagues, this is the Premier League, which is the most competitive league in the world, but there are some good signs. When I say I want to look after him, I don’t want to sound like I am talking down to him.

"He comes into the squad competing to play, for sure. We must be aware that there is a bit of a transitional period. Hopefully not because he hits the ground running. I think he has the quality to do that."

Like Pulisic, many think Lampard has something to prove, with the former Derby boss a relatively young coach in the Premier League with only one prior year to his name as a manager.

The 41-year-old is used to being doubted as he was famously told he was not good enough for West Ham in a viral clip from the club's fans' forum in 1996.

Some are echoing those doubts over his career as a manager, but he is happy to prove people wrong as he leads his team out for his first competitive game.

"When I look back on my career, West Ham days, coming to Chelsea and England was difficult at times. That’s not just me, and it is part of a career in football. At the top where you want to be, it is tough and you have to prove people wrong," he added.

"Even more in the modern day of social media where everyone has really strong opinions. Normally, you would have to break down barriers. The only way that I ever knew to try to do it was to work. It certainly feels sweater if you do prove someone wrong or get to where you want to be.

"I am happy with the career I had of 21 years of playing because I felt like I gave everything and I couldn’t have given much more. I am trying to do the same as a manager. I use all that stuff as motivation. I am not stupid, I understand why [we are doubted], we have a transfer ban.

"There are two teams out in front from last year. The Premier League is more competitive at the top end than it has ever been so it shouldn’t be and it won’t be, ‘Oh Chelsea are clear favourites to win the league this year.’ I don’t think that's for anybody going forward.

"Even for Manchester City, who are a fantastic team and Liverpool pushed them to the wire. I don’t think you can walk around with your eyes closed. You should be aware of these things. They don’t affect my thinking day-to-day.

"They make you determined to do the job as well you can. I don’t mind it. I like to be considered not as a favourite. In my career, there have been many moments like that and they are the sweet ones where you can believe in what you can do and you can achieve it."

Lampard was part of Jose Mourinho's team when he won his first game as a manager against Manchester United. That success led to two consecutive Premier League titles with Lampard as one of Mourinho's key players.

United are once again going to be Chelsea's first opponents and Lampard admits it isn't going to be easy. He is ready for a tough week with pressure on his squad, who will fly the following day to Turkey for the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool.

"We come back from Manchester and on Monday we fly to Istanbul to face Liverpool. There is not too much time to consider things. We want to hit the ground running, yes. Wouldn’t everybody?

"We have been given a tough start, especially when you consider the turnaround from Sunday to Wednesday with the travel. We are prepared for two hard games."