Frank Lampard was impressed by Antonio Rudiger’s return to the Chelsea starting XI. The Germany international has spent the majority of the campaign warming the Chelsea bench, playing second fiddle to Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva.
The former Roma centre-back returned to the fold on Saturday afternoon in the Blues’ 2-0 victory over Newcastle, deputising for Silva.
Rudiger had an easy day at the office, marshalling the defence well and winning his battles with Toon forward Joelinton.
The 27-year-old’s display upon his return to the team caught the eye of his manager, who said: “I was pleased with his performance.
“I talked about it before the game that a lot of managers would love to have five centre-backs but it brings difficulties as you can only pick two if playing in a back four and then two or three are unhappy.
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I was pleased with his performance
Frank Lampard on Joelinton’s performance in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Newcastle
“It’s not easy to come straight into a team if not playing so regularly and perform. That means you need a good attitude throughout the week and a good attitude in how they prepare.”
Rudiger seemed destined to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer as Lampard appeared to have deemed him to be surplus to requirements.
Lampard has vehemently denied that notion and has subsequently declared his support of the defender, adding: “I’ve got confidence in Toni.
“I think he came in and thought his performance alongside Kurt they were very strong. Anything that came in the box they dealt with very well.
“They had a lot of the ball and they moved it well. I’m really happy as it’s hugely important to have a strong squad this year with the schedule as it is. For Toni to come in and play and keep a clean sheet was brilliant for him and brilliant for me.”
Lampard’s former Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole was similarly impressed by Rudiger’s performance, telling BT Sport: “It’s the nature of the beast when you’re at a club like Chelsea or any of the big boys, you know every summer they are bringing in players to strengthen.
“They’re not bringing in players to come and sit on the bench, they are bringing in players to make an impact on the pitch.
“Rudiger is a difficult one because he’s been captain and he’s a senior player but you have to give credit where credit is due.
“It’s a difficult day for him. He’s come in and pitched it right. It looked like the biggest credit I could pay him is that Thiago Silva wasn’t even missed one bit. He just came in did his job and it was an exceptional performance.”
Chelsea will be back in action on Tuesday, travelling to France on Tuesday night to take on Rennes in their fourth Champions League Group E match.
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