Frank Lampard says the coronavirus guidelines have made it hard for Hakim Ziyech to gain his match fitness for the club.
The Morocco international finally made his debut for Chelsea last week in the 3-3 draw with Premier League side Southampton at Stamford Bridge.
And Lampard said that the coronavirus regulations, which prevents the first-team squad from mixing with the Under-23s in behind-closed-door matches, have slowed Ziyech’s progress after his return from injury.
‘It’s been very difficult to integrate him,’ said Lampard. ‘We have a bubble here at Cobham so we can’t play against the Under-23s or bring over a lot of kids to replicate 11 vs 11 games on big-sized pitches, which is generally where you would want someone to be working when they’ve not played for five or six months off.
‘We miss that and we have to find the right way to give Hakim and others in the squad minutes as quickly as we can.’
Despite Ziyech’s injury, Lampard has heaped praises on the midfielder for his mentality and says Chelsea’s new keeper Edouard Mendy has also shown the same confidence in training.
‘When I look at the squad I want to help grow the ideas of leaders and personalities within the group,’ said Lampard. ‘Over the course of a long, difficult season there will be moments when you rely on them to help you in tough times, and to push the good times along.
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‘You can’t get on in any elite sport without people with personality and character in the team. ‘I have seen that in Hakim and Edu Mendy as soon as they came through the door.
‘Hakim has confidence about him, his fitness is coming individually, he still needs a bit of time to get his match fitness now his injury is cleared up, but both of those will be great additions on that front.
‘I encourage personality and communication between the players, we need more of that.’