Frank Lampard admits it is only natural for him to harbour significant concerns over Christian Pulisic’s checkered injury record after ruling the Chelsea star out of Saturday’s game against West Brom.
The USA international endured a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge following his move from Borussia Dortmund, but emerged as one of the Premier League’s most exciting talents following a spectacular end to the campaign.
Pulisic scored in the opening goal in Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal but picked up a hamstring injury which effectively turned the tide in the Gunners’ favour in that match and he is yet to fully recover from that setback.
The 22-year-old has been restricted to the role of onlooker so far this term and was on the sidelines as new signing Kai Havertz scored his first professional hat-trick in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Barnsley.
Lampard is confident his star forward will be available within the next fortnight but admits he must manage the winger’s workload carefully to avoid another lengthy injury enforced absence.
He said: ‘There is always a concern about players’ fitness when the history says there has been some injuries and last season we did have it with Christian. I was questioned many times on my position on Christian when he did play and didn’t play.
‘Of course, when you look at a player with his recent record, you are trying to find the right way, the right balance of getting the best out of him which we saw in big periods last year and making sure you don’t overcook him and leave him susceptible to injury, particularly a player of his explosive pace and balance. That’s a fine line.
‘We are working on that and Christian is also very open to that. He wants to play, he is so hungry to play and he is very nearly fit now but it is certainly something we will have to manage with him this season because we have all seen the talent and it is something we want to get right.
‘Christian isn’t ready for the squad – nor is Hakim Ziyech – but they are both training with us now which is good news and we hope to have them with us in proper match contention over the next week or two,’