Manchester City are sweating on the fitness of Frank Lampard after the 36-year-old suffered a hip injury in their friendly against Hamburg on Wednesday.
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City have spent the last few days training in the Middle East after losing to Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday and the reigning Premier League champions were worried that Lampard could miss their crunch clash against Chelsea on Saturday, January 31 (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) as the Blues legend is set to make an emotional return to his old club.
The MLS-bound midfielder, who will finally join NYCFC this summer after plenty of rigmarole, should return to training by the start of next week. Speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi after the friendly against Hamburg, Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini gave an update on Lampard’s fitness after he hobbled off just 20 minutes into the 2-0 win.
“Frank was injured in the warm-up. He felt some problem in his muscle but I don’t think it will be very serious,” Pellegrini said. “We took him off just as a precaution. I hope that he will be fit, not only for Chelsea, but for the FA Cup [against Middlesbrough on Saturday]. It was just a small problem, but he asked to try to play. After that he told us it was impossible but I don’t think that it will be a very important injury and we hope that we can have him for Saturday.”
If Lampard isn’t fit enough to make City’s fourth round FA Cup game against Middlesbrough on Saturday, expect all of next week to be filled with “is he fit, or isn’t he?” talk surrounding Lampard ahead of the top of the table showdown at Stamford Bridge. However Pellegrini gave another update on Thursday which seem to confirm that Lampard will be available to play against Chelsea, following on from his late equalizer against the Blues for City earlier this season.
Yes, it’s clear that City have a plethora of attacking options aside from Lampard but given his experience and knack of popping up at the right place at the right time to score crucial goals, Pellegrini will likely use him as a substitute against Chelsea in a game City cannot afford to lose. If they do, they will be eight points behind PL leaders Chelsea with 15 games to go.