‘It’s been very difficult to integrate him’: Frank Lampard says it has been tough to get £36m summer signing Hakim Ziyech match-fit after knee injury due to coronavirus guidelines
- Hakim Ziyech suffered a knee injury during a pre-season game against Brighton
- Chelsea’s £36m summer signing from Ajax has recovered but is not yet fully fit
- He has featured during Chelsea’s last two games with Southampton and Sevilla
- Boss Frank Lampard says it has been tough to work Ziyech back into the squad
Frank Lampard has admitted it has been ‘difficult to integrate’ Hakim Ziyech into the Chelsea team.
The £36m summer signing has only played 46 minutes so far this season due to a knee injury he sustained in a pre-season game with Brighton.
Ziyech is back in training and featured during the club’s last two matches against Southampton and Sevilla, but his progress back to fitness has been hampered due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Hakim Ziyech has played just 46 minutes after his recovery from a pre-season knee injury
Frank Lampard admits it has been difficult to ‘integrate’ the Moroccan back into the team
Chelsea’s coronavirus bubbles prevents the first-team squad from mixing with the Under-23s in behind closed doors games.
During his pre-match conference ahead of their game with Manchester United, Lampard said: ‘It’s been very difficult to integrate him.
‘We have a bubble here at Cobham so we can’t play against the Under-23s or bring over a lot of kids to replicate 11 vs 11 games on big-sized pitches, which is generally where you would want someone to be working when they’ve not played for five or six months.
‘We miss that and we have to find the right way to give Hakim and others in the squad minutes as quickly as we can.’
After five games, Chelsea sit in ninth in the Premier League table, and they will be hoping to feature Ziyech more prominently as they look to mount a push at the top of the table.
Lampard has praised the Moroccan international for his mentality in battling back to full fitness.
He said: ‘When I look at the squad I want to help grow the ideas of leaders and personalities within the group.
‘‘Over the course of a long, difficult season there will be moments when you rely on them to help you in tough times, and to push the good times along.
Covid-19 restrictions mean Chelsea’s first team can’t play against their U23’s in practice games
‘You can’t get on in any elite sport without people with personality and character in the team.
‘I have seen that in Hakim and Edu (Edouard) Mendy as soon as they came through the door.
‘Hakim has confidence about him, his fitness is coming individually, he still needs a bit of time to get his match fitness now his injury is cleared up, but both of those will be great additions on that front.
‘I encourage personality and communication between the players, we need more of that.’
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