Lampard talks to Declan Rice as Chelsea prepare for West Ham’s ‘strong’ test

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Frank Lampard insists Chelsea cannot regret Declan Rice slipping through the academy net and flourishing at London’s West Ham.

England midfielder Rice He progressed through the much-vaunted Chelsea academy, but was released at age 14, before making the switch to the Hammers.

Since then, the 21-year-old has excelled in East London and has become an England regular, to the point where he is now a long-term transfer target for the Blues.

Chelsea he might have to pay over £ 50 million to sign a player who went through his system and is still best friends with Blues midfielder Mason Mount, but boss Lampard insisted that no academy can make the right decision with every young gamer.

“He’s a fantastic player for West Ham and England, fair play, because his journey there, after leaving Chelsea and going to West Ham, is a good story to listen to,” Lampard said.

“There are a lot of those stories for different reasons, on any level, and that shows a strength of character. In terms of our end, I certainly wouldn’t use the word regret.

“Our academy is one of the best in the world, you look at our first team and all the players that we have produced who are in and around the first team squad, we have so many.

“And it is not easy, it is not an exact science to choose players. The academy works brilliantly here to attract a lot of players.

“Declan Rice has taken personal credit for going and having the great start to his career that he had at West Ham.”

West Ham impresses Lampard

Chelsea will host West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, trying to regain their form after back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.

The Hammers will head to West London high up under the stern tutelage of David Moyes, with Lampard impressed.

However, former West Ham midfielder Lampard has admitted that facing his former club as a manager does not have the same intensity as when he was a Chelsea player.

When asked if facing West Ham means more to him given his history with the club, Lampard said: “If I’m honest, he did it when he was playing, as a coach and in my role now it’s not like that.

“Maybe it has softened me or something has changed, but I also focus on what is necessary for the club. Maybe I personally took it upon myself to get up for that game against West Ham because I had played for them before.

“But not now, I just see it as one more game, particularly after two losses for us, it is an important game only for us to get closer to wanting to go back to where we were before these two games.

“I think David Moyes is doing a great job, they have good players, but the way they are playing and the levels of consistency they have this season have been really impressive.

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Moyes doing a great job

“I think he is an experienced and very, very good coach who has conveyed his message to them. And they are playing very well, the organization of their team, the style they play, it is very difficult to play against them.

“They have threats in the counterattack and they are very good at set pieces, so they are playing very well and they are clearly a well managed team.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech returned to full training on Friday as the wingers continue to shake off hamstring issues.

However, Lampard admitted that both men must prove their fitness before Monday’s clash.

Lampard added: “Today is their first day back with the group, training at a decent level, so I will have to see how they are in the next few days if they want to reach West Ham.”

READ MORE: Man Utd relies on a major factor to beat Chelsea to Rice signing

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