‘If we’re in crisis we couldn’t ask for anything much better than having Petr Cech around’: Frank Lampard insists decision to include retired goalkeeper in Chelsea’s Premier League squad is ‘not for the romance’
Cech’s inclusion was confirmed as Lampard savoured the relief of a clean sheet against Sevilla in the Champions League.
It was his first goalless draw since taking charge at Stamford Bridge and the perfect response to the criticism aimed at his defensive unit and his goalkeepers this season.
Frank Lampard (right) has made a shock call to name former Petr Cech in his Chelsea squad
The former Chelsea keeper returned to Stamford Bridge in 2019 in an off-the-field role
But Lampard has called on his former Blues team-mate, who he is pictured celebrating winning the Champions League with in 2012, to act as cover in goal in case of an emergency
‘It’s definitely not for the romance,’ said Lampard, when asked about Cech.
‘Pete’s been training with the keepers for a little while. He’s very fit and still relatively young. Pete finished playing when he could have probably carried on and taken on his role at Chelsea, which he does very well.
‘We had a space in the squad and this year is like no other because of Covid and what it might do to selection and isolation. So it was an easy one. Pete will still do his day job but he’s there if we need him.
‘Whether we see him or not I’m not so sure. It depends how the season goes with Covid and isolations. I certainly felt it was a no brainer to have Pete in the squad for that reason and he can only help the goalkeepers we have. He’s one of the best in the world in the modern era.
The 38-year-old has been keeping fit and is working with the club’s keepers including summer arrival Edouard Mendy (left) who he is seen advising during a training session
Cech had initially left Chelsea as a goalkeeper at the end of the title winning 2014-15 season
‘If we’re in crisis we couldn’t ask for anything much better than having Petr Cech around. I don’t expect it but nobody expected what we’ve seen in the last six or seven months around the world.’
Cech is a Chelsea legend, and hero of their Champions League triumph in 2012. He retired in May 2019 and returned to Stamford Bridge from Arsenal to take on a role as a technical performance adviser.
At 38, he is eight months younger than Willy Caballero who was on the bench against Sevilla, and the idea of his inclusion as emergency cover in the Premier League squad was first mooted before Edouard Mendy arrived for £22million from Rennes in September.
The theory reinforced when Ukraine were forced to put a 45-year-old coach on the bench in a friendly against France, because three keepers had been suddenly ruled out by coronavirus.
Chelsea produced a robust defensive performance on Tuesday night in the Champions League, with Mendy making a save during a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge against Sevilla
Veteran defender Thiago Silva featured for the Blues who have come underfire defensively
Mendy was back in goal against Sevilla after injury ruled him out of Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Southampton, and he looked confident and assured. The return of Thiago Silva to the centre of defence also helped Chelsea look more solid at the back.
‘Thiago showed his experience and qualities,’ said Lampard. ‘Mendy probably has one save to make and he makes it, and he was good with his feet.
‘It was a very good organised defensive performance against a very good team and I’m pleased with that. It feels good, it is something you strive for always.
‘When you play at the Champions League level, you have a lot of work on the defensive side. We can’t complain about no goals. We’ve scored a lot of goals in the Premier League already. We will score goals. The clean sheet is the big bonus of the night.’