Frank Lampard will look to give teenager Lewis Hall a chance in Chelsea’s first team during the final weeks of the season.
The academy graduate has made five Premier League appearances this campaign, all during the injury crisis that hit then manager Graham Potter’s squad either side of the World Cup.
He was deployed as an emergency left-back during the 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City in January but has not been given a run-out since starting the goalless draw with Liverpool at Anfield two weeks later.
Lampard, who did not work with the 18-year-old during his first spell as Chelsea manager, again finds himself with players missing for the run-in, with Reece James and Mason Mount out for the season and Ben Chilwell, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella all absent for Saturday’s game against Nottingham Forest.
The interim manager also confirmed that England Under-20 coach Ian Foster will not be able to include Hall in his squad for the upcoming World Cup in Argentina, increasing the likelihood of his involvement in Chelsea’s final four games.
“Lewis has a chance,” said Lampard. “I was tempted to put him on last week (in the 3-1 win against Bournemouth), but the nature of the game, the experience of Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) was more suitable at that point. I’ll view this game on its merits as well but I’ve been really impressed by his training.
“He’s a very good player, really talented player. If anything I think he needs to come out of himself that bit more, because he should really trust how good he is and feel at home with the group.
“In games I’ve watched from afar – I didn’t get to work with Lewis before, he was a bit younger – but I’ve been really impressed and he hasn’t dampened that at all. He’s in the running for the last four games to be involved.”
Chelsea have a chance to impact the fortunes of teams at both ends of the table during the run-in, starting with the visit of Steve Cooper’s Forest to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
If Lampard can lead the team to its first home victory since early March it will hand a boost to his former side Everton’s hopes of beating the drop, with the two relegation-battlers separated by only a point just outside the bottom three.
“It’s a really big test like (Forest) have given big teams recently; Liverpool, Man United, winning against Southampton and Brighton,” said Lampard. “You have to give them complete respect, a strong squad, strong coach, effective way of playing.
“They’ve not changed but evolved over the season in their style, a lot of speed on the counter attack, threatening in terms of set pieces. Which is fair play because they’re fighting for everything.”
After Forest are games against league-leaders Manchester City, who cannot afford to drop points with Arsenal chasing them down, and against Champions League chasers Manchester United and Newcastle.
Saturday’s game will be a chance to end a run of six home matches without a win in all competitions, with the team having not tasted success at Stamford Bridge since beating Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on March 7.
“If (home) form has not been great since I’ve been here and preceding that, it’s very normal and human that can build up some nervousness amongst players and staff,” said Lampard.
“The only way through that is to dig in and try and do the right things. I’ve been there as a player. That’s what the players have to do, simple as that.
“The crowd will go with them and with that you can become a bit of a force. We’re obviously striving for that.”