Chelsea manager Frank Lampard confirmed that he only dropped club captain Cesar Azpilicueta from his side’s starting XI today in order to give Reece James some much-needed first team minutes.
Lampard opted to start James over the Spaniard at right-back for his side’s clash against Crystal Palace earlier this afternoon, a mach the Blues went on to win 2-0 thanks to goals from Abraham and Pulisic.
James put in a brilliant performance against the Eagles, as he built on the impressive display he put in against Ajax in the Champions League earlier in the week.
The Blues starlet ended up pocketing Wilfried Zaha for the entire 90 minutes, as the Ivorian struggled dearly to get the better of the Englishman at Stamford Bridge.
Some would’ve been surprised to see Azpilicueta dropped for James given that the Spaniard’s is Chelsea’s club captain, and now, Lampard has come out and revealed why he made such a decision before kick-off.
As per the Sun, when speaking about this selection choice, Lampard noted “These are the kind of decisions I have to make as a manager. It would have been harder to speak to Azpi about leaving him out if he wasn’t in his best form, but because he has been playing well he knew I was only looking to give Reece some minutes.”
Given that he’s only recently come back from a serious long-term injury, it is essential that Lampard gives James some first team minutes in order to ensure his development isn’t stunted.
When you consider how he played against Palace this weekend, it seems like James may find himself starting over Azpilicueta more often in the coming weeks, as he looks to cement his place in Lampard’s starting XI…