Frank Lampard has vowed to field a full-strength Chelsea line-up in Tuesday’s FA Cup clash with Liverpool.
The Blues boss insisted he will resist any temptation to prioritise the Premier League and the fight for Champions League qualification when the Reds pitch up at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea could be without Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic for the fifth-round cup encounter, but that will not twist Lampard’s arm into ringing the changes.
Asked if he could rotate his players given the congested fixture list, Lampard said: “Cement and go for victory. It is Liverpool, our fans are coming in the FA Cup to try to overturn the best team in the land.
“It doesn’t mean I might not change a couple of people. There might be something for freshness of legs or a couple of different options, but I won’t pick a team to casually give minutes… (I’ll) treat it like I would any Premier League game.”
Loftus-Cheek is likely to feature for Chelsea’s under-23s on Monday night, instead of Tuesday’s FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
The 24-year-old England midfielder was an unused replacement in Saturday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Bournemouth as he continues on the comeback trail after Achilles surgery.
Chelsea academy graduate Loftus-Cheek tore his Achilles in May and is yet to play under Lampard, and the Blues boss is desperate not to rush back one of the club’s star turns.
“Ruben may play with the 23s on Monday,” Lampard said. “I would love to get him into a first-team game. He missed an opportunity with a calf injury a week or two ago, which stopped him playing an under-23s game when I wanted him to.
“I would like to see him complete a whole game. It has been a bad injury.
“It wouldn’t be fair on him to bring him on for 15 minutes and not the right thing for the team at the moment. Once he shows that he can go through a game, then no problem he will go back in.”
Lampard expects winger Hudson-Odoi to miss Tuesday’s visit of Liverpool, but the 19-year-old could recover from his hamstring complaint in time for Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Everton.
There is, however, no prognosis on a return for either striker Abraham from his niggling ankle problem, or Pulisic from his lengthy adductor injury.
“Callum I am hoping will be back for next weekend,” Lampard said. “Christian is the same as Tammy – there is no clear answer.”
Marcos Alonso’s brace salvaged a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday for the fourth-placed Blues.
Jorginho’s yellow card at the Vitality Stadium means the Italy midfielder can play against Liverpool, but will now miss the league matches against Everton and Aston Villa through suspension.
Lampard remains confident, however, that the Blues have the resources to cope with Jorginho’s impending absence, albeit coupled with fellow defensive midfielder Kante’s knee injury.
Asked if Jorginho’s suspension will cause problems, Lampard said: “Yeah, but we’ll work round it. We’ll have to.
“We have players who can do it. Mateo Kovacic finished in the holding role, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour… That will be the solution and it might open opportunities for other players.”