Frank Lampard said he wants to “protect” Thiago Silva ahead of a busy week as he left out the defender from Chelsea’s Champions League side against Krasnodar.
While Silva is certainly a valuable part of Lampard’s defence, at 36, he would have to be very cautious of his fitness.
After missing out on the Southampton game due to travelling from international duty with Brazil, Silva made the starting line-ups against both Sevilla and Manchester United.
In those two physically demanding games, Chelsea went for a more defensive approach than usual and reaped the rewards with two consecutive clean-sheets in the bag.
Having played three games in a week, Chelsea will have to play four more games in the next 11 days — against Krasnodar, Burnley, Rennes and Sheffield United — and Lampard decided to leave Silva out of their trip to Russia in order to keep him fresh for the other three games.
He told Chelsea’s official website: “With Thiago, I decided and we decided, because I speak with Thiago a lot, with the game that we played at the weekend, the journey here [to Russia] and the travel back, we arrive very late back into London on Thursday morning and then we play three games over the next week, we made a choice to protect Thiago.
“We have other centre-backs in the team so it is not hopefully to make us weaker. Someone else gets an opportunity and hopefully takes it.”
This will also be an opportunity for either Fikayo Tomori, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger to potentially establish their spots in the pecking order.
Silva is unlikely to play three or four games a week and a solid performance in Krasnodar stadium could put themselves next in line as a rotation centre-back, rather than an emergency back-up.