Soccer: Ajax are a massive danger, Chelsea boss insists ahead of Champions League tie

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Frank Lampard

The Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday set a date for Chelsea’s appeal against their two-window transfer ban but, with Ajax visiting for the Champions League, manager Frank Lampard will not allow himself to get distracted by the possibility of new faces in January.

If their appeal is upheld on Nov 20, then the Blues will be allowed to dip into the transfer market, which the club was barred from doing so in the summer.

While Lampard admitted he was “very interested” in the verdict, he had to focus on the present and as such, “it is a little down my list”.

Pundits had predicted the club would miss out on a top-four place this season owing to their ban, but their academy products have stepped in, performing beyond expectations.

And with eight victories in their last nine games in all competitions, the Chelsea boss yesterday declared that he was “very happy with what I’ve got”.

At his pre-match press conference for today’s Champions League Group H clash with Dutch champions Ajax, he said: “We are on a good run. It is a nice feeling (the ban is no longer a sore point among fans), but we will always look to improve if we can.”

Having won their away match in the Netherlands 1-0, Chelsea can put one foot in the knockout phase by completing the double-header, but Lampard does not want any complacency from his players thinking their job is done as “the danger of Ajax is massive”.

“After losing the opening game (of the Champions League), we have shown a great reaction”, he said. “It is expected of Chelsea to go through, it is maybe why we had the reaction after (losing to) Valencia.

“We need to have the same attitude as the last results. We have had two good results, another one would be great for us.

“The game will be similar (to the one in Amsterdam). We need to be at our best. More than any other competition, details can make the difference.”

One of the youth-team graduates to impress this season has been Mason Mount.

Despite this being his first year playing in the Premier League and Europe, the midfielder has been a revelation, scoring four goals and winning his first cap for England in September.

Crediting the 20-year-old’s one-season loan spell with Dutch top-flight club Vitesse Arnhem in 2017 for building his “quality and character”, Lampard said: “The next story is up to him. He has to keep working.”

The Blues great also received a boost after revealing that N’Golo Kante was fit again, with only Antonio Rudiger and Ruben Loftus-Cheek confirmed out.

While he called Kante “one of the best in the world” and “huge for us”, such is the competition for places in Chelsea’s midfield that he could not guarantee the French international a starting spot.

On the form of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, he added: “It’s important (they keep it up) for the way that we want to play.

“Moving through central areas. You should be comfortable to accept the ball. We can improve and get better.”

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