Lampard: Lille clash can be defining occasion for Chelsea youngsters
Frank Lampard believes Tuesday's Champions League clash with Lille will be a defining moment for Chelsea's youngsters.
Chelsea can book a place in the last 16 of the competition with victory at Stamford Bridge, while a draw will be enough if Valencia lose to Ajax in the other Group H fixture.
The Blues' only two European wins this term have come on their travels, but Lampard hopes the make-or-break nature of the Lille match can bring the best out of his players.
Asked if games like Tuesday's can shape the younger members of his squad, Lampard told reporters: "Yeah, they are crucial for the players. I was fortunate to have big moments like this for the club. I like that this is a knockout, we are going to be at our best. It is a big game, almost like a knockout game.
"We have wanted more in our home games. When you score early in the game it changes the face of the game. When you play well but don't score you add the pressure yourselves."
Chelsea lost 3-1 to lowly Everton in the Premier League on Saturday and have won just one of their past five matches in all competitions.
However, Lampard is not concerned by his side's form and is glad to have a chance to make an instant response against Lille.
"It was always going to come," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "The way we are, the nature of the Premier League. It was never going to be plain sailing. This is a test.
"It's a tight turnaround, but that is the nature of the season. There is work you can do and working out there. I am pleased we're playing."
Chelsea have been boosted by the return of Antonio Rudiger to their squad for Tuesday's match, though Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud will not be involved.
Rudiger has featured only once this term - in the 5-2 league win over Wolves on September 14 - and Lampard acknowledged his side have missed the German centre-back.
"He is in the squad. It is good to have him back," Lampard added. "We have given him a lot of work. He has come through that and he looks fit and ready to go.
"I know he is hungry. He is a good defender, you miss those individuals. And then see what he can bring for us."