Lampard Set For ‘Special’ Chelsea Return
Derby County’s Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea will be a “special occasion” for boss Frank Lampard, who spent 13 years at Stamford Bridge as a player.
Lampard won every domestic and major European honour with the Blues, and is the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The 40-year-old returned to Chelsea as a player with Manchester City in 2015 but this is his first visit as manager.
“I realise how important Chelsea were in my life and what I owe for that in terms of thanks,” Lampard said.
“I’ll be proud and honoured to be taking my team to a club that was my home for 13 years and still feels like home.
“I’ve got great affiliation with Derby already, I’m working hard to do something good here and I love it, but I can’t forget 13 years of my career.
“I was lucky to be part of a strong era, the infrastructure that was laid by Roman Abramovich, it’ll be special to be back there and feel that atmosphere again.”
Lampard, his assistant Jody Morris and first-team coach Chris Jones are all Chelsea alumni, having played or worked for the club previously.
‘They deserve the occasion’
The Rams head to Chelsea for Wednesday’s last-16 tie having already eliminated Manchester United in the competition, triumphing 8-7 on penalties at Old Trafford in round three.
On-loan Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, 21, summer signing Jack Marriott, 24, and Chelsea duo Mason Mount, 19, and Fikayo Tomori, 20, were all part of the squad that night and are now in line to feature at Chelsea.
With success against United already banked, Lampard is encouraging his Derby side to show the same belief when they take to the field against another stellar Premier League opponent.
“They’ve got to be fearless and focused,” he added. “They’re good young players. I don’t want the game passing anyone by, and it didn’t at Old Trafford.
“That’s all I want to come away with, I’m not concerned about the result, I just want them to turn up focused and give it everything.
“They deserve the occasion, the opportunity to go up against a magnificent Chelsea side no matter who they put out on the night.”
‘All the signs are there in terms of quality’
Derby have been given a major boost in terms of his selection for the tie, as on-loan pair Mount and Tomori received approval from Chelsea to feature against their parent club.
Portsmouth-born midfielder Mount has particularly impressed Lampard during his loan stint, contributing five goals in 18 games for the Championship side and receiving a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s most recent England squad.
Having said he always tipped ex-Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard to be a hit, the former England international was equally glowing about the teenage Englishman’s prospects.
“He can be very special,” Lampard said of Mount. “Those things are always easier to say after the event, like I did about Hazard, I don’t want to heap pressure on Mason.
“All the signs are there in terms of quality, talent and work rate. Even if he’s having a game when he can’t always be affecting everything with the ball, his work rate is outstanding,
“That’s what sets him out as a young player, he’ll improve, he’s only 19. It’s a great test for him to go up against Chelsea.”