Frank Lampard insists he never had any doubts about selecting Antonio Rudiger after the defender’s Chelsea recall.
The Germany international had looked set to depart Stamford Bridge before the close of the transfer window, having fallen down the pecking order.
But having failed to secure a transfer away, Rudiger has left Lampard impressed with his professionalism and desire to work his way back into the first team.
Last week the pair held further talks over his future and Rudiger was included in the squad for the goalless draw with Manchester United on Saturday.
And the 27 year-old duly made his first start of the campaign in Wednesday night’s 4-0 win over Krasnodar in the Champions League.
Having operated with a back three at Old Trafford, the Blues reverted to a back four in Russia, with Rudiger partnering Kurt Zouma at the heart of defence.
“I am very pleased with the performance of Rudiger and Zouma,” said Lampard.
“They can take credit for the clean sheet, amongst other players.
“I didn’t have doubts over Toni. His training and professionalism has been clear ever since I’ve been here, and certainly in recent weeks.
“And I was pleased with the back five’s [including goalkeeper Edouard Mendy] concentration levels, to have a real desire to keep a clean sheet.
"It is not easy to keep five centre backs happy but we need that level of competition to move forward."
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Now Rudiger is back firmly in the mix with three more games before the international break.
Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has backed Lampard’s handling of the defender, as well as his decisiveness as he bids to change the club’s defensive Achilles heel.
Speaking on BT Sport, Cole said: “I think it’s been spot-on," Cole told BT Sport.
"Rudiger’s been a good player for Chelsea, he’s a leader, he’s a big player in Germany, he’s a big character in the dressing room.
"The goalkeeper, Kepa [Arrizabalaga], hasn’t settled, so he’s addressed that situation by bringing in Mendy.
"He’s also brought in Thiago Silva, if you’d have said last season, what do Chelsea need? They need an experienced centre-half, who can talk and dominate and he’s done that.
“Frank has plugged the gap. He’s recognised the team conceded too many goals last year.”
The Blues face Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday in their next Premier League outing.
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