Can Chelsea and England manage without Frank Lampard? Well, the prosaic answer is that they’re going to have to until mid-October, after a minor setback (inflamed scar tissue if you must know) in his recovery from groin surgery means that the midfielder will be sidelined until after the international break – with a return tentatively pencilled in for Chelsea’s Premier League tie with Aston Villa on October 16th.
Lampard’s prolonged lay-off means that he will also be forced to sit out of Marseille’s visit to Stamford Bridge in the Champions League tomorrow night, their clash with Premier League rivals Arsenal on October 3rd and England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley on October 12th.
The 32-year-old hasn’t featured for Chelsea in over a month and his manager Carlo Ancelotti delivered the updated prognosis from under arched brow earlier today;
“He can’t play on Tuesday [against Marseille]. We need to have more time than we expected for his rest. In a few days there will be an international break and he will be ready for the first game after the break. He didn’t play with us so I don’t think he is able to play for the national team.”
To be brutally honest, I greeted the news with unswerving indifference and I’m wholy sure that many others will follow suit.
The fact that Chelsea haven’t so much as skipped a heartbeat (their defeat to Manchester City this weekend aside) without him in the side, and it is inescapable that the England midfield has looked like a much more assured and effective unit (against Bulgaria and Switzerland) without Lampard’s water-muddying inclusion
Obviously he still fulfils an important role at Chelsea, and is almost ideally suited to the purpose – but Lampard’s continuing absence from the first string is being felt nowhere near as keenly as it would have been three years ago and is perhaps therefore testament to his footballing decline and steadily waning influence – whether you’d like to admit it or otherwise.