Antonio Rudiger, the German defender made his comeback in a win for the reserve team after missing the end of last season due to a serious knee injury. He completed the full 90 minutes in Chelsea Under-23s’ win over Liverpool. The Germany international made his first appearance since suffering a meniscus injury in April in front of Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard who was watching on from the stands at Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea defender returned to full training at the beginning of August having missed all of pre-season and came through unscathed as Chelsea’s development squad ran out 3-0 winners in Premier League 2 – with another senior squad member, Michy Batshuayi, scoring twice.
Rudiger’s comeback will be welcome news for Lampard, who is yet to win a competitive match in charge of Chelsea with losses to the Red Devils and Leicester City in the league and a Super Cup defeat against Liverpool.
Rudiger’s absence has left Lampard with only three centre-backs – Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma and youngster Fikayo Temori – to choose from so far this campaign, with Cesar Azpilicueta naturally a right-back, following the sale of David Luiz to Arsenal and Gary Cahill’s free transfer to Crystal Palace.
Zouma and Christensen have been the preferred pairing though after a costly mistake in the 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in the opening weekend, Zouma has come in for some criticism from the fans. Former Blues defender Ashley Cole, who retired from football on Sunday, insists there is no cause for alarm at Chelsea just yet, but there are issues for Lampard to address early on in his tenure in charge.
“Chelsea have got the players and everyone expects them to be in the top four or six, but the Premier League has changed,” Cole said. “The manager needs time, the players need time and I don’t think everyone should panic yet.”
With only one point in the league from the home draw against Leicester, the Blues will be keen to bounce back with a trip to Norwich on August 24. They will then host another promoted team, Sheffield United, on August 31 before a tough stretch of games involving Wolves and Liverpool.