Frank Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes on Manchester City not being allowed to compete in UEFA competition.

City were handed a €30million fine and two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League by UEFA in February due to alleged "serious breaches" of club licencing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in UEFA competition next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

The CAS decision will also have serious ramifications in the Premier League, as fifth-place will no longer be good enough for Champions League qualification, as it had looked set to be with City – who sit second in the table – out of the picture.

Six points separate five teams in the race for the second two spots in the top four, and although a Manchester United win over Southampton on Monday will elevate them to third and above Chelsea, Lampard remains relaxed about the situation.

"I was pretty neutral on it [the City verdict] really," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's visit of already-relegated Norwich City. "I didn't know much about the case, I just looked at the result of it this morning.

"I don't see beyond the games in hand, we want to win them. I was never pinning my hopes on it, we just looked at ourselves.

"My only concern are the games ahead. We are at a critical stage of the season. We know what is in front of us. We have to try to finish the job.

"We are sitting third, it is in our hands. This morning has just made it clear now and we have to fight for it."

Lampard will hope the visit of struggling Norwich provides some relief and respite for Chelsea, who have been erratic this month.

After enjoying a three-match winning streak after the season's resumption in June, Chelsea have since lost two of their past four, including a dire 3-0 defeat at fellow European hopefuls Sheffield United last time out.

While Lampard says he has tried to not dwell on that loss, he did acknowledge changes are likely.

"Possibly, [but] I don't want to give my starting XI away," he said. "While I have to consider the freshness of the team, we are trying to get the balance of the side as well.

"Sheffield United have taken big teams all the way this year. I won't dwell on the game, it can happen to any team. It's something we don't like, but we are striving to be better and it is important for that.

"I don't have a set way of dealing with it, just how I see fit. I like to watch games back. The players could feel they weren't at their best, we are moving on and we have a positive feeling in the camp.

"If you don't turn up and perform, it doesn't matter about momentum, but having good home form gives us confidence. Norwich - we have to treat them with utmost respect. They can feel unfortunate with some of their results."

Leicester City's shock 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday at least ensured Chelsea will remain in the top four regardless of United's result against Saints.

Similarly, on paper the Foxes have the trickiest run-in of the three teams as well, as they have to face the Blades, Tottenham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on the final day of the season.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard does not believe the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech should be unsettling his squad amid their battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Blues were beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United last Saturday, a result that could have damaging consequences in terms of their bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Leicester City's surprise 4-1 defeat to struggling Bournemouth on Sunday means Chelsea remain third in the table with three matches to play, although they will drop to fourth if Manchester United beat Southampton on Monday.

The humbling loss at Bramall Lane came on the same day that Ziyech, who is joining from Ajax for an initial fee of £33.4million (€40m), was pictured training at Chelsea's Cobham base for the first time.

"If you want to be a Chelsea player and be in the Chelsea team and squad and fight for the Premier League, to fight in Europe and to fight for trophies you have to focus on yourself," Lampard said ahead of Tuesday's game against relegated Norwich City.

"At the moment, going into this season we were 30-odd points off the top two last season. If you want that gap to close, you have to focus on yourself. If players come in, that should be the nature of the beast playing for Chelsea. It shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

"I feel a huge inquest is not needed [after the loss] because of where we are at. The games are coming thick and fast; we're nearly at the end of the season. I will analyse the game myself certainly but for the players, the biggest thing is that they have to be positive and look to the next one.

"I know the feeling as a player. It was a horrible game for the players and none of the players played well. When you do that at a place like Sheffield United when they are playing well, it is a very difficult place to get anything out of it. I won't dwell on it this time and I will concentrate on the games ahead and the players will, too."

Lampard admits there are defensive problems he must address following the loss to Chris Wilder's side, with Chelsea having conceded more league goals (49) than any other team in the top 10.

"It was certainly one of our worst days of the season in terms of performance and you get what you deserve on that front," Lampard said.

"I would love to have consistency in the back four, or back two or three or whatever you want to call it. That is what you strive for. Unfortunately, this season we have made mistakes and individual errors where you end up striving for it.

"That is the position we are in. The only way out of it is hard work with the individuals involved to get through this season as we’re still in a good position considering the expectations at the start of the season, then we'll look forward.

"Amongst other things, you don't want to concede that amount of goals. There are many reasons for those goals when we look through the season. Sometimes I bemoan the fact we don't score enough - that gives you the feeling of comfort in games and nervousness can create problems that lead to goals.

"We know we have made too many errors in terms of giving goals away and it is something that we have to address."

Frank Lampard is not concerned with Chelsea potentially being fifth in the Premier League by the time they next play but warned his side they cannot repeat the approach taken in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Sheffield United.

The Blues' Champions League ambitions were dented as a brace from David McGoldrick – one goal either side of Oli McBurnie's header – sealed all three points for the Blades

Third-placed Chelsea were second best throughout at Bramall Lane, with a limp defeat meaning Leicester City and Manchester United can leapfrog them with wins over Bournemouth and Southampton respectively.

Fifth may still be enough for Champions League football, depending on the outcome of Manchester City's appeal against their two-year ban from the competition.

However, Lampard has no designs on putting Chelsea's fate in the hands of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Lampard told Sky Sports: "What we have to do now with that game is put that to bed because the only thing that matters now is that we fight for top four and we're still in that race because of how we've been this season. We have to put this game away very quickly, but I learnt a lot.

"They were stronger than us, I think you could feel that. We don't have a crowd so you hear every voice, all I could hear was Sheffield United voices.

"They were stronger in that sense, and they're good players, they're a good team. We all know that this season. So if you come here and perform below par collectively as we did, it's going to happen."

However, Lampard is not focusing on where Chelsea could be in the table come their next game against relegated Norwich City on Thursday, which is followed by the FA Cup semi-final with United and the Blues' final two league matches versus champions Liverpool and Wolves.

"That's the reality of it but I'm not concerned so much about top four today," Lampard replied when asked about dropping to fifth. 

"All I do is sit and watch all the games on TV and consider where we're at and what we want to do, because, of course, I want to get there, but today I'm concerned about how we performed and I learnt a lot about that.

"I'm not thinking right now, 'We might be fifth, we might still be third or fourth.' I'm thinking that we'll see by the time these teams play and by the time we approach Norwich, and we cannot approach Norwich or Manchester United or Liverpool and Wolves in the same vein as we did today."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard would not want to see his players engage in heated arguments on the pitch in the manner of Tottenham's Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min.

In the 1-0 win over Everton on Monday, the duo were involved in a flare-up at half-time and had to be separated by team-mates.

Lloris later explained he had been frustrated with Son's failure to track the run of Richarlison, who came close to scoring for the Toffees, but insisted they had put it behind them quickly.

Head coach Jose Mourinho was encouraged by such a show of fighting spirit from his players and Lampard was asked whether he would like to see the same thing from his Chelsea stars, with Tammy Abraham having lost the ball and failed to track back in the closing seconds of the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, which resulted in Scott Dann hitting the post.

Lampard admits there are certain qualities his young players must improve, but he believes any such disagreements between team-mates should be confined to the dressing room.

"Tammy gave the ball away and has to react better and yes, of course, I speak with the players when these things happen," Lampard said ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with Sheffield United on Saturday.

"It's part of the development but they can only go so far. Some things in football are basic and they need to do better. Tammy gets us the goal that wins the game, I know his intentions are good, all the players want to see out the game. It's a mistake that can happen to anybody.

"Reactions and work-ethic areas are where I would really come down hard, and I think generally with the players, we don't have that issue. But we do make mistakes maybe sometimes with the youthfulness and that's something we'll work on and get better at.

"In terms of issues on the pitch, I'm not mad on seeing players fight like that. I think those things should at least be held for the dressing room. It can happen on the training ground, in the dressing room. I'm not an advocate of saying, 'That's positive, it means they care'. Every situation is different and sometimes I feel with players pointing fingers at other players... they better make sure their game is right as well and that they're doing the right things.

"I think a good squad of individuals will push each other and it's more of an unspoken rule - you don't let each other down. I'm not mad on things being on show in front of everybody else like that, but we're all humans and sometimes it happens and how you deal with it after that is probably the important thing."

Chelsea are under pressure for a result against Sheffield United, with Leicester City just a point behind in the table and Manchester United only two adrift after their 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Thursday.

That game saw a controversial penalty awarded to Bruno Fernandes following a collision with Ezri Konsa, with referee Jon Moss awarding the spot-kick and VAR backing up his decision.

Lampard was surprised by the speed with which the penalty was given and allowed to be taken and wants more open dialogue with lawmakers to iron out VAR's problems.

"I only saw the Manchester United one and I was surprised how quickly it was dealt with and not looked over again," he said. "We had one at West Ham a couple of weeks ago when [Michail] Antonio was offside and pretty clearly interfering, and it took them a few minutes but they came to the right decision. [At Villa Park] it seemed to be that, by the time it came back, the penalty was being taken.

"So, I think there are probably issues to deal with, but I also sympathise with the referees then, the grey area of 'clear and obvious', because I've already heard a few different observations on the decisions of last night. But we need to open dialogue, we need to talk more, we need to try to get it as good as it can be. We may never be absolutely happy with this. I actually think that VAR, for the clarity it gives when it's gotten right and makes the right decision and helps the referee, then it works very well at times. What the referee needed with the Manchester United one, in my opinion, was help. In real time, I think it looked like it might have been a penalty; pretty clearly, when we had all the advantage of replays, it didn't look so."

Frank Lampard is not prepared to look ahead to next season and the possible signing of Kai Havertz - or the departure of Jorginho - just yet.

Chelsea are reportedly the favourites to sign Bayer Leverkusen star Havertz, although a rumoured price tag of over €90million is unlikely to be met by any suitor.

However, speaking ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Sheffield United on Saturday, head coach Lampard made it clear he is not interested in anything beyond the final matches of 2019-20.

Asked about Havertz, he said: "Unfortunately, it's another answer from me that that is not something I want to broach at this moment in time. My focus is completely on the games that we've got. I don't want to give you ifs, buts or maybes on any potential [deal] for the summer. My focus has to be on the here and now."

Lampard also dismissed a question about whether Jorginho will still be at the club in 2020-21, insisting: "It's irrelevant to me what happens next season."

Jorginho has slipped down the midfield pecking order at Stamford Bridge but an injury to Billy Gilmour, which is set to keep the teenager out for up to four months, means the Italy international is likely to be involved in the final games of the season.

Lampard would not say whether Jorginho will be straight back in the team to face Chris Wilder's side, but he insists the player does not have to prove he is worthy of a place at Chelsea.

"We'll see in terms of selection. I don't want to start talking about the team yet, but I don't think there's a point to prove," Lampard said.

"I spoke about him before the last game: there is no point to prove for Jorginho. He proves it in training, when he plays for me, and simply these things are [about] selection. I just want to see the usual Jorginho.

"I'm very pleased [with his attitude] and it's what I expect from players and what I want at the club because there is no way you go through a season without moments possibly out of the team, without moments that are slightly difficult individually or whatever, and you have to have a toughness to you as a squad, individually and collectively, hence why I made him vice-captain when I came in, because I saw that in his personality.

"I thought he did well when he came on the other day – it was exactly what I wanted in the game at that moment, to take control, to drive it with his voice and his quality of pass, which he's done for a huge part of this season for us. I was very pleased with him."

Lampard also plans to speak with N'Golo Kante, who will miss Saturday's game, and the Chelsea medical staff about the player's injury problems this season.

The France star has struggled with a succession of fitness concerns this term, something his coach puts down to the fact his pre-season was curtailed by a knee issue.

"The big issue this year was he came to pre-season injured and missed a massive part of pre-season," he said. "We tried to get him quickly fit for the [UEFA] Super Cup, in which he was incredible with his performance, but he was still struggling, and it's been a real domino effect for him.

"It's time maybe to take stock. The injury he's got now isn't really related to the serious nature of the knee injury he had coming into the season, it's just a small injury, which I think is probably more down to the games played and the lack of pre-season now.

"I'm happy to manage a player like him with the levels he's reached over recent years in his career and where he's at. I'm very happy to manage him as we see fit, so that will be a very open conversation between myself, N'Golo, our strength and conditioning coach and the medical team."

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour will be out for up to four months after undergoing knee surgery, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

The 19-year-old was hurt after a collision with Luka Milivojevic during the Blues' 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

"Billy Gilmour's had an operation on his knee this morning, unfortunately, so he'll be out, we estimate, for somewhere between three and four months," Lampard said on Friday.

Gilmour had been flourishing this season under Lampard, making 11 appearances in all competitions, and had recently moved above Italy international Jorginho in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard says there is a stroke of fortune about the timing of the injury, with much of Gilmour's recovery likely to be taking place during the off-season between this term and the start of 2020-21, but he accepts the news was a blow to the player.

"I'm obviously very disappointed, we all are and Billy is himself," Lampard said. "I spoke with him yesterday [Thursday] at length and just gave him support, really.

"He's a tough boy. It hit him hard – I get that as well, particularly as a younger player who's just made his breakthrough in recent times and was doing so well – but it's part of football and I tried to explain he can be very pleased with the impact he's had this season. Part of our job as players is to get on with these things and learn our lesson quickly and his attitude will get him back as quick as he possibly can.

"His character is fantastic. Particularly with his age, the personality he has shown in getting in and around the first-team squad, getting himself into the team, I'm very sure he'll show the same character and do everything right with the rehab and tackle it.

"He's got a close-knit family around him who'll be there for him and we're his family too, we'll be there for him and the small bonus is it will hopefully cover a period that's off-season and pre-season, so he's maybe not missing as many games as he might have done."

Chelsea, who sit third in the Premier League table with four matches remaining, face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard hailed in-form Christian Pulisic after the Blues star scored again in Tuesday's five-goal Premier League thriller against Crystal Palace.

Pulisic scored his eighth league goal of the season from just 16 starts and third since the season restart following the coronavirus-enforced break as Chelsea edged Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park.

After Olivier Giroud's sixth-minute opener, Pulisic doubled the lead approaching the half-hour mark before Palace star Wilfried Zaha reduced the deficit heading into the interval.

But Tammy Abraham's 71st-minute strike ensured Chelsea climbed above Leicester City into third position, despite Christian Benteke's goal.

Lampard was full of praise for United States international attacker Pulisic – who arrived from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season – afterwards amid comparisons to former Blues star Eden Hazard.

"I didn't put any limits on [Christian Pulisic]. I knew the talent he had and I wanted to help him when he first got here because this is a physical league, I think the best league because of the physical nature of it," Lampard told reporters.

"He came in and he'd had no break, so we had to be careful. I tried to manage the beginning and he came in and played great for us.

"Unfortunately he had an injury, quite a bad injury. But the hunger he has, the quality that he's showing and the end product, which is the main thing for me.

"Top players in the world in his area, attacking players, do score goals. They win games, they make a difference, they assist. And in the restart he's been fantastic."

Jorginho was once again on the bench for Chelsea, with Lampard preferring Billy Gilmour in the absence of injured midfielder N'Golo Kante.

Italy international Jorginho, who has been previously linked with Juventus, had not made an appearance since the 2019-20 campaign resumed until replacing Gilmour in the 80th minute on Tuesday.

On the fringes at Stamford Bridge, Lampard said of Gilmour's selection ahead of Jorginho: "I thought Billy did pretty well. I wasn’t overly delighted with our midfield today. I think considering how they have played in recent games and how slickly we have moved the ball in recent games and rotation, I thought we held onto it a bit long today.

"The reason I played Billy is a choice. The two games Billy played before lockdown against Liverpool, probably the best team in the world, and Everton were fantastic."

Tammy Abraham's decisive goal against Crystal Palace will be a huge boost to his confidence, says Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Chelsea won a Selhurst Park thriller 3-2 on Tuesday, the 22-year-old scoring what proved to be a pivotal third goal for the visitors, his first strike since the Premier League's resumption.

Ahead of the match, Lampard had urged Abraham to focus on his faltering form as opposed to a new contract, amid speculation over where he fits in the club's long-term plans ahead of Timo Werner's arrival.

The striker had not scored since January 11 and lost his starting place upon the post-coronavirus restart, but Lampard was buoyed by his cool 71st-minute finish shortly after coming on for Olivier Giroud.

"It will be really important for Tammy because he is desperate for goals," Lampard told the media.

"He hadn't scored for a while. It helps his confidence and it is good for me. It gives me other options.

"He came on late in the game, he scores the winning goal and I'm pleased for my strikers."

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who tipped Scott Dann's last-gasp header onto the post, was praised by Lampard, along with defender Kurt Zouma after his last-ditch tackle in a dramatic finish to proceedings.

Palace made it an uncomfortable outing for Chelsea with Wilfried Zaha scoring a wonder-strike, leaving Lampard to concede his team should have managed the game better.

"We should have had the game done at 2-0," he said. "We should have controlled the game better and then at 3-2 we had good chances to finish off.

"With some slight wrong decisions maybe in the final third or final shot, and then it invites pressure.

"Kepa makes a great save, Kurt makes a great tackle. But in those last moments it was nervous for us."

The win increased Chelsea's chances of earning a top-four finish in the Premier League. With Leicester City drawing at Arsenal, the Blues move up to third in the table.

Chelsea climbed to third place in the Premier League with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Tuesday.

Frank Lampard's Champions League hopefuls surged ahead with goals from Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic, before Wilfried Zaha hit back in stunning fashion.

Giroud's opener came after just six minutes as the visitors capitalised on the misfortune of former Chelsea player Gary Cahill.

The in-form Pulisic doubled the Blues' lead in emphatic style before the half-hour mark, but Zaha's wonder-strike kept the away side on their toes.

Tammy Abraham's cool 71st-minute finish was followed promptly by a Christian Benteke tap-in, but Roy Hodgson's men were still condemned to a fourth straight defeat after Scott Dann was denied by the post at the death.

Chelsea broke the deadlock when Cahill appeared to pull a hamstring chasing Reece James' ball in behind, allowing Willian time and space to pick out Giroud to steer home from close range.

With Cahill off injured, Palace's day went from bad to worse when Pulisic lashed in from 12 yards, with Willian again providing the assist. 

The lively Willian went close to a grabbing a goal of his own, but Vicente Guaita proved equal to the Brazilian's side-footed effort.

Palace sprung into action in a spectacular manner soon after, Zaha arrowing a glorious strike beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga from 30 yards.

Abraham's precise finish from Ruben Loftus-Cheek's neat pass appeared to put the game to bed but Chelsea switched off and Patrick van Aanholt laid on an unmissable chance for Benteke barely a minute later.

However, Palace were unable to complete the comeback, with Dann's header hitting the upright deep into stoppage time as Chelsea, beaten 3-2 in their previous away game at West Ham, reversed that scoreline this time.

What does it mean? Chelsea hunting Foxes

It is tight in the battle for a top-four finish, with Chelsea putting five points between themselves and fifth-placed Manchester United. They also edged ahead of Leicester City and into third ahead of the Foxes' clash with Arsenal. Palace, meanwhile, stay 14th.

Willian the key to unlock Palace

Willian, who had two assists, has now been involved in five goals since the resumption of the Premier League campaign, only behind Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (six) as the division's most productive player in that time frame. He created a game-high five chances.

A reunion to forget for Cahill

Cahill won two top-flight titles and the Champions League with Chelsea, but this reunion with his old club will not make the scrap book. He was not to blame for the opener, as pure bad luck saw him struck by injury at exactly the wrong moment.

What's next?

Chelsea head to Sheffield United on Saturday, with Palace taking on struggling Aston Villa on the road the next day.

Billy Gilmour was preferred to the out-of-favour Jorginho in Chelsea's starting line-up for the Premier League derby at Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

Jorginho has not featured for the Blues since the season resumed last month and has been linked with a return to Italy.

Frank Lampard praised the midfielder's professionalism on the eve of the clash at Selhurst Park, where it was thought the former Napoli man could replace the injured N'Golo Kante.

Yet it is teenager Gilmour who has got the nod to start against the Eagles in the only change following a 3-0 defeat of Watford on Saturday.

Chelsea can move into third place with a win over their London rivals, although possibly only briefly as Leicester City travel to Arsenal for a later kick-off.

Tammy Abraham has been warned by Chelsea boss Frank Lampard to focus on his faltering form as opposed to a new contract.

Abraham made a superb start to his breakthrough Premier League campaign, scoring 12 top-flight goals before the turn of the year, while also netting for the first time at senior international level with England.

However, the 22-year-old has not scored since January 11 and lost his starting place upon the post-coronavirus restart.

Timo Werner's pending arrival from RB Leipzig further complicates matters for Abraham, who is yet to agree an extension to a Chelsea deal that expires in June 2022.

"I think Tammy's contract, we're not at a critical level with it and I'll leave that between him and the club to discuss that side of it," Lampard said ahead of Tuesday's trip to Crystal Palace.

"I don't think it's something that's in his mind. It certainly shouldn't be.

"What needs to be in his mind now is these games we have coming up and how much he can give us on the pitch, whether he's coming on as sub or starting games.

"He has had a really good season. He hasn't scored so much in the second half of the season and, as a young player, it's always clear when you have those periods there's only one way out of it.

"That's work and repetition in training – every moment you get trying to make the most out of it.

"I just think that's where Tammy's at. The contract will hopefully look after itself between him and the club. He just needs to focus on giving us that Tammy that we had earlier in the season, who was giving defenders so much of a problem during games and scoring regularly.

"It all came form how he was training and working through the week. You could see it in his demeanour, which meant he performed on the match days. That's what he just has to sustain all the time."

Lampard has generally fielded more gushing enquiries over the group of Chelsea youngsters he has blooded this season.

Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori were selected alongside Abraham in Gareth Southgate's England squad, joining club team-mates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi in winning Three Lions caps.

USA international Christian Pulisic is the current toast of the Stamford Bridge fanbase, while Reece James and Billy Gilmour offer more compelling evidence of a bright near future in west London.

Nevertheless, Lampard was keen to caution that troughs such as the one Abraham is enduring are inevitable sequels to the peaks for youngsters enjoying lavish praise.

"We get very excited with young talent and young players, and rightly so," he said. "We've seen it this season and that's why I try to stay pretty grounded when I get asked a lot about the youth, particularly earlier in the season.

"It's really hard to come into this Premier League with the level that it's at and sustain performances or be in the side all the time. There's competition, games are hard.

"So whether its Tammy, whether it's Mason, whether it's Fikayo – they'll all have periods of real input, playing regularly, and periods when they're not so much.

"That's something that we all have to be a bit calm with from the outside and expect that.

"The main thing for me, working behind the scenes with them all is they understand that and understand they will have those little moments and not lose confidence – I'm always there to support them on that one.

"But they also need to continue the work and never think they've cracked it. That's a message for all the young players, not just mine."

Lampard added: "I've been there, I know how hard it is to break through. But once you break through it's possibly harder to sustain it and move on to the different level, which top players do – sustaining great performances for years.

"All these younger players here potentially have it. A lot of it is in their hands at this point."

Frank Lampard is optimistic N'Golo Kante's season-spanning injury struggles might be at an end, despite a hamstring strain ruling the midfielder out of the forthcoming Premier League games against Crystal Palace and Sheffield United.

Kante will miss out at Selhurst Park on Tuesday as the Blues look to take another step towards Champions League qualification, although Lampard described the setback as "low-level" with a one-week recuperation period.

The more severe knee injury the 29-year-old sustained on the eve last season's Europa League final win over Arsenal, where Kante completed 90 minutes with the help of a painkilling injection, is one that still rankles with Lampard, who has been without one of his most influential players for 11 of the 33 Premier League games so far this term.

"He had a pretty bad injury in the Europa League final. When we came back for pre-season I expected him to be, sort of, fit," the Chelsea boss explained.

"When I say expect, I wasn't sure what the situation was and it turned out he wasn't near fit with that injury.

"Then we end up with a slight domino effect that took us through the rest of the season, which means he played pretty much 50 per cent of the games before we went into lockdown.

"I'd like to think that we're through that patch and this injury now is pretty unrelated."

There will be little let up for Chelsea's players, who could yet have an FA Cup final assignment and their Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich – a 3-0 first-leg deficit makes progress to the final mini-tournament in Lisbon highly unlikely – to address in August before an expectedly quick turnaround for the 2020-21 campaign.

Lampard believes this period will show players the value of knowing their limits, suggesting the famously all-action Kante is receptive to tailoring his methods.

"The players have to be given a couple of weeks off at the end of this season, however the Premier League want to arrange the start of next – whether we're in the Champions League, how far into it or not," he said.

"[Kante] will use that little refreshment break, then work in pre-season. When you get a few injuries in your career, particularly when you're in your mid-20s, maybe you see things differently and you have to maintain yourself slightly differently.

"N'Golo is certainly buying into that so I think that will help too."

Kante's latest absence is likely to mean a return for Jorginho against Palace.

The Italy midfielder was a mainstay before lockdown, although he has been an unused substitute for Chelsea's past three Premier League games.

Nevertheless, Lampard insists he has no problem with Jorginho's efforts.

"Jorginho has to do nothing different," he said. "He trains well, he shows me that he's good for the group on and off the pitch. He's vice-captain of the club.

"There's nothing different, it's purely my choice at the moment, with what I see from the games in front of me, how I like the makeup of my midfield to be.

"Sometimes it's affected by the other players that are in that midfield, whether I think we need more defensive attributes in the game.

"He doesn't need to do anything. It's purely my choice."

Christian Pulisic plays with a more direct style than Eden Hazard but has plenty to do to match the Belgium superstar's exploits at Chelsea, according to Frank Lampard.

United States international Pulisic has enjoyed a rich vein of form since the Premier League resumed, scoring in wins over Aston Villa and Manchester City and dazzling once again during the 3-0 victory against Watford on Saturday.

The 21-year-old's quicksilver showings in a wide attacking role have invited comparisons with Hazard, who moved to Real Madrid last year after seven decorated seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard is keen to avoid frequently measuring Pulisic against Hazard and highlighted some of the differences between the two box-office performers at his pre-match news conference for Tuesday's trip to Crystal Palace.

"Having played with Eden and seen him come to the club at a relatively young age, similar to Christian, we saw the development of him," said Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer, who played alongside a young Hazard in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

"He had a special talent straight away of being able to receive a ball and have great balance and go past players so well. He would draw a lot of players towards him to open up space for others.

"He was pretty unselfish in how he would make assists."

Those scheming qualities were never greater than when they propelled Hazard to the PFA and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year awards in 2014-15, although Lampard feels Pulisic is a player who more immediately brings fans to the edge of their seats.

"I think Christian is possibly more direct in his style sometimes, in terms of how he goes past players and runs off the ball, which I like," he said.

"Eden would come and get the ball and take it past players a lot. With Christian, sometimes I think he has the ability to break the line and run forward, which is a really great trait in the modern game."

Pulisic's 20 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign have yielded seven goals and two assists – numbers that hint as much at potential as they do present-day star status, something Lampard acknowledges Hazard earned time and again.

"In terms of the comparison, which is why I stayed away from it a bit the other night, Eden has been here and done it and did it to an incredible level," he added.

"Christian has it in his hands to make a real impact over a long period of time.

"The thing I'm so happy with now is when we're playing teams and the games are tough and you're finding it hard to break teams down, he's taking responsibility to change that, to change it in moments by using his ability to turn quickly and go past people.

"It's been great to see and, as I keep saying, there's a lot of development to come for Christian. I'm very happy with him."

Chelsea will be without N'Golo Kante for Tuesday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace after the France midfielder sustained a hamstring strain.

Kante is also likely to be absent from the Blues' weekend assignment at Sheffield United, although head coach Frank Lampard does not expect his absence to extend much further due to the injury being "low level".

"Kante won't be in the squad, he hurt his hamstring," he told a pre-match news conference.

"It's a low-level hamstring [injury], so we're hoping it is a week or so.

"We'll play that one as it goes but I would expect we'd be very lucky to have him for Sheffield United."

Mateo Kovacic returned to training following an Achilles problem on Monday but the visit to Selhurst Park comes too soon for the Croatia international.

It means Jorginho is set to resume duties at the base of Chelsea's midfield – a position he made his own under Lampard and predecessor Maurizio Sarri until the Premier League resumption last month.

The former Napoli star has been an unused substitute for the Blues' last three matches having not featured in the matchday squad for the 2-1 comeback win at Aston Villa – one of three "Project Restart" victories, which leave Lampard's men fourth, a point behind Leicester City and two better off than Manchester United in a knife-edge battle for the Champions League places.

"He has been very professional about it," Lampard said of Jorginho. "He wants to play as every player does.

"One of the hardest parts of the job is telling a player who is not playing, or picking a squad and leaving out players. Particularly when they are training well and Jorginho always trains well.

"But he has handled it professionally and that's what I would expect. It is important for players in a long season, with the competitive squad that we have, that they are there to support players when they are out, and he has done that.

"So we will see with my selection tomorrow. I don't want to go into the personal details of positional and tactical. I just have to pick a team as I see best. They are just my choices."

Lampard hopes that positive attitude extends to his whole squad when it comes to the pressure of sealing a top-four place – something he insists Chelsea's players should relish with five top-flight games remaining.

"I like to think they are not ignoring what's around them. Football is on TV more than ever," he added, reflecting on the Premier League's rebooted schedule.

"I expect them to buy into that and want to see what results are happening around us. I think that's human nature and on a sporting level I think that means you care and want to see what's happening.

"I think then there needs to be a slight switch off to focus on what's happening to yourself. We can't control the other games, although we are certainly interested in them, but we can control what we do.

"So it can fire you up to see what happens around you. The position we are in means it is in our own hands and that's the main thing. We need to focus on putting on the best performance when we train and play."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard wants his players to embrace the pressure of trying to qualify for the Champions League in their Premier League battle with in-form Manchester United.

Lampard's Chelsea moved back into the top four with a 3-0 win over Watford after United had briefly leapfrogged them following a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, two points clear of United with five matches remaining in the Premier League, as the top-four race goes down to the wire.

And Lampard told his players to ignore United, who have gone 16 matches without defeat across all competitions, after bouncing back from Wednesday's shock 3-2 loss at West Ham.

"I think every game is going to be pressure now," Lampard told reporters. "West Ham was pressure because we knew we could go third. It's a different kind of pressure but it's still the same in how you focus on the game and job at hand.

"You cannot get too caught up in what everyone does at the moment. We did that tonight. There was no nonsense. The mentality was right. We started brightly and we carried on and got the small details of the game right at both ends of the pitch, which I was happy with."

"It is not a comparison to get too caught up in," Lampard said. "They are a very good team; we know that. The individuals that they have, the squad, the coaches that they have. We can only respect that.

"I watched their game early and with the individual quality when you look across their frontline you see two players on 20 goals and Mason Greenwood doing what he is doing scoring regularly.

"[Bruno] Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba in midfield, the signing of Harry Maguire. They are a really strong outfit. We know that and the fact we are two points ahead we have to be happy about.

"We know it is going to be contested right until the end of the season with the form that they are in. With respect to Manchester United and the teams around us, we have to focus on ourselves and try to keep picking up results. That will be the main importance to us."

Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley were on target for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

However, midfielder N'Golo Kante suffered a hamstring injury in the win after he was withdrawn with 12 minutes remaining in London.

Lampard, who insisted Jorginho remains part of his plans despite finding himself out of the line-up, added: "N'Golo has got a small hamstring [injury] which we'll have to scan tomorrow [Sunday] and see how bad it is.

"We hope it's small, that's what I've been told so far. After the scan we'll know but I'm guessing it'll be a problem for [Crystal] Palace on Tuesday."

Lampard also heaped praise on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been linked with a return to LaLiga, after the former Athletic Bilbao star produced an agile save to thwart Danny Welbeck.

"I am pleased for him and the back four in front of him as well because I thought we defended pretty well when we needed to," Lampard said. "But the moment when we slipped and they got in; he made a really good save.

"That's what you want from your goalkeeper, you want them to make those saves and stay alert. It will be good for his confidence along with the clean sheet as well."

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