Rudiger injured, as Chelsea prepare for UCL return

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After a season away, Chelsea return to UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday as they host Valencia at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard spoke of his pride ahead of his first UCL game as a manager, and the Blues will be in a confident mood after thrashing Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-2 at Molineux on Saturday.

Speaking in a press conference ahead of their group stage opener, Lampard confirmed that Antonio Rudiger is out injured again after aggravating a reoccurring groin injury on his return to action at the weekend.

“Toni is injured. He’s bothered a small groin problem that he’s been carrying for a few weeks and will have a scan later today,” Lampard said.

Whether or not Rudiger’s injury forces Lampard to ditch the 3-4-3 formation which served his side so well at the weekend remains to be seen. Kurt Zouma, who has struggled so far this season, could slot right in for Rudiger.
Whoever he picks, it is clear he will continue to put his faith in the young trio of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount who all scored at Wolves.

Abraham has seven goals in his last three games, including a hat trick at Wolves, and having three players under the age of 21 who came through Chelsea’s academy playing pivotal roles has given everyone at the west London club a warm feeling.

“I just believed in him and trusted him,” Lampard said about Abraham. “I know a lot was made of the ban giving opportunities for young players but I felt now was his time. He is in a good place and can improve even more.”

It will be intriguing to see how this young Chelsea side cope with the demands of European and Premier League action.

Tomori, Abraham and Mount were emotional at the final whistle on Saturday as their journey through the academy and eventually into the first team is complete.

But this is only the start. Lampard is correct to acknowledge Chelsea’s transfer ban from FIFA forcing their hand in playing youngsters this season, but he was also correct in saying that Abraham was ready for his chance.

Chelsea’s youngsters now have to deliver week in, week out to justify the rising optimism at Stamford Bridge.

In years to come we may be talking about “The Class of 2016” reshaping Chelsea’s future. That is still some way off, but there have been enough promising signs so far for Chelsea to be excited about these young prospects, especially when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi return from injury.