Frank Lampard pleased with tough beginning


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New Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admitted Wednesday’s opening pre-season friendly draw with Irish side Bohemians was tough but will help his players’ fitness levels.

The former Blues player, who took over the reins from the departed Maurizio Sarri earlier this summer, watched from the dugout for the first time as striker Michy Batshuayi gave his side an eighth-minute lead after Kenedy’s long-range shot was blocked.

It seemed as though it might be enough to win the game but trialist Eric Molloy equalised for Bohemians with one minute left on the clock. Lampard gave a few fringe players the chance to show what they could do, with the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kurt Zouma all getting a run-out.

The former England man was happy with what he saw but knows that they will improve as pre-season progresses. “Fitness was always going to be an issue against a team that’s halfway through their season. We certainly pushed ourselves to the limit,” he said.

“The quicker we get there, the better. It’s about individuals getting fit. Some of the young lads were really good. We want to get a level of fitness and intensity in their game.

“It was a tough game for us. We’ve only been here for a few days. But I am pleased with how we got on. I’ve been pleased with the players’ attitude since I arrived last week.”

While Chelsea are not tipped to win the Premier League next season and can be backed at 23.00 to do so, there is no way that Lampard will settle for being down among the also-rans and will be pushing hard for a top-four spot (1.85).

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