BY PAUL LAGAN
Antonio Rudiger is facing the axe for Chelsea’s trip to Burnley tomorrow as Thiago Silva is set to return to the centre of the Blues’ defence.
The German international was brought in out of the cold by head coach Frank Lampard for the first time this season in Wednesday night’s emphatic 4-0 drubbing of Russian outfit FC Krasnodar in the Champions League.
Rudiger, 27, was close to a transfer to Spurs in the summer but a deal could not be made between the clubs.
Lampard said: “I am very pleased with the performance of Rudiger and Kurt Zouma. “I didn’t have doubts over Toni. His training and professionalism has been very clear since I have been here and certainly in recent weeks.
“ Going forward, we need more than two centre backs. We have Thiago Silva at home and we have Tomori and Christensen in the squad.
“It is not easy to keep five centre backs happy but we need the levels of competition that we saw on the pitch on Wednesday night to keep moving forward.”
Silva’s return will be a kick in the teeth for the Berlin-born defender who didn’t put a foot wrong while partnering Kurt Zouma in a strong back four. But the massively experienced 36-year-old Brazil stopper Silva will resume defensive duties having starred in Chelsea’s creditable 0-0 draw at Manchester United at the weekend.
The Blues should have had a penalty after United centre-back Harry Maguire wrapped his arms around Cesar Azpilicueta’s neck in the penalty area.
But VAR failed to intervene. Callum Hudson-Odoi became Chelsea’s second youngest Champions League scorer after Reece James in the 4-0 win on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old said of his low drive that bounced off Krasnodar goalkeeper Matvei Safonov: “I’ll take any goal that comes my way.
“It was a shot that the goalkeeper mis-parried and it went in but a goal is a goal, so you try to keep improving and get more.
“We worked really hard from the start and we deserved our goals with the way we played. There were a few times when we were lackadaisical, a bit slow at times, but after that we grew into the game and we took our chances well.
“We worked really hard, we took our chances and we defended as a team, went forward as a team and collectively what the manager wanted, we did in the game.
“So we are really happy with what we did and hopefully we continue like this.”
Chelsea have not conceded a goal in their last two games and will hope to continue that run at Turf Moor.
Eight Chelsea Women players have qualified for the Euro 2022 tournament following a host of international fixtures. Norway’s Maren Mjelde earned her 150th cap against Wales where Sophie Ingle captained Wales.
Mjelde played centre-back alongside Maria Thorisdottir while Guro Reiten played on the wing.
Pernille Harder skippered Denmark to an 3-1 triumph over Italy side in Group B to qualify. Sweden are there too after beating Iceland 2-0 captain Magdalena Eriksson played at centre-back while Jonna Andersson was at left-back.
Germany’s Melanie Leupolz and Ann-Katrin Berger’s also qualified. Their friendly against England was cancelled due to a Covid-19 positive test in the England camp. Erin Cuthbert played for Scotland on Friday against Albania and won 3-0. But the Scots lost 1-0 to Finland in Helsinki and qualification is out of their hands.
The Blues’ face Spurs in the Conti Cup on Tuesday at Kingsmeadow, Kick-off is 7pm and the game is live on the Chelsea website.
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