Andre Villas-Boas fears Frank Lampard absence for Chelsea

13 August 2011 12:40
Andre Villas-Boas has admitted Chelsea could be left short of cover in midfield if injury strikes Frank Lampard again this season.

Lampard was sidelined for three and a half months last term, his absence coinciding with the Blues' worst run in the Barclays Premier League for almost 15 years.

The England star returned to help them go close to completing the greatest comeback in Premier League history, but they ultimately came up short and finished the campaign empty-handed.

Counting the cost; Chelsea suffered without Frank Lampard when he was missing through injury last season

Chelsea have already lost two midfielders before the start of this season, with Yury Zhirkov returning to Russia and Michael Essien ruled out for six months with a serious knee problem.

The man signed to fill the void, Oriol Romeu, is still on international duty with Spain at the Under-20 World Cup and may not be available for selection until next month.

Chelsea have also made two attempts to prise Luka Modric from Tottenham but so far without success.

And although Villas-Boas is happy with his squad going into his first competitive game in charge against Stoke on Sunday, he acknowledged resources could easily become stretched.

'We are struggling with numbers in midfield,' he said.

Missing man: New signing Oriol Romeu (L) is away on international duty with Spain Under 20s at the FIFA World Cup

'We have Oriol still away at the under-20s World Cup. He'll return late in August, so numbers are short.'

Sunday's game is likely to see Chelsea line up with a three-man midfield of Lampard, Ramires and John Obi Mikel, with Josh McEachran as back-up.

Villas-Boas revealed he would also consider asking Yossi Benayoun or Florent Malouda to play more centrally if necessary.

'It's good enough for us that the people we have can play in those positions - we have a lot of versatility in midfield,' he said.

'Florent Malouda and Yossi can play number eight or number 10, and that gives us flexibility.

'That's why we're happy with the squad running into the Stoke game.

'All have been playing at a high level. In midfield, everyone has been performing well.'

Forward thinking: Villas-Boas could start with Drogba in attack at Stoke, leaving Torres on the bench

While Chelsea may have a shortage of midfielders, the impending arrival of 18-year-old Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht would give them a surplus of strikers.

That is where Villas-Boas' first big selection dilemma lies, with one of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres likely to be left on the bench.

Drogba is favourite to start against at the Britannia Stadium, having impressed in pre-season, with the Ivorian also seeming better suited to Stoke's physical game.

Lukaku, however, had still not been officially confirmed as a Chelsea player.

'We're outlining details,' said Villas-Boas before explaining why the Blues had finally pounced for a player with whom they have long been linked.

'Lukaku is one of those players we couldn't afford to lose because of his potential.

On the move: John Terry is looking forward to the arrival of Belgium striker Roman Lukaku

'That's why we made a move in the market, although our team is competitive and competent enough in that sector.

'Bearing in mind what he's been doing for the last couple of years at Anderlecht, we couldn't let this boy escape.'

Captain John Terry said of his fellow Chelsea fanatic: 'I looked him up YouTube the other week. I heard the guys say that he sleeps in his Chelsea shirt.

'For me, someone coming in like that and caring about the club from day one is the ideal situation.

'We want players coming for the love of the club.'

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Source: Daily_Mail