Chelsea boss Frank Lampard conceded that Ross Barkley showed a lack of professionalism over the international break but has defended his player.
The Blues midfielder was unavailable for selection for England last week due to an ankle injury, but a video surfaced over the break showing him topless in a Dubai nightclub.
Naturally, that’s not quite the recovery and preparation that either Gareth Southgate or Lampard would want to see from the 25-year-old, but the latter hasn’t gone too hard on him and has limited his criticism to the incident rather than escalating it further.
“I think there are two separate issues,” he is quoted as saying by The Sun. “One is the headlines this week, Ross knows how I felt about the first headline.
“I backed him then, I still back him now but he showed a moment of a lack of professionalism as far as I’m concerned.
“And it’s not something that I want to be a pure dictator on and come down hard because I also understand that all my players are humans and have lives and I don’t police every moment of their life.
“So I don’t think it’s a terrible thing that he’s done but all Ross needs to do now.
“He’s had an injury and he’s still kind of carrying the injury – he still gets a bit of pain on shooting – so he just has to work his way back in.”
It’s a classy way of handling the situation from Lampard, and who knows, perhaps he has had a sterner word with Barkley in private to warn him against creating similar headlines in the future.
Nevertheless, it looks as though the former Everton ace will be given a chance of working his way back into the side when he’s fully fit and available for selection as expected, and time will tell when that will be as Chelsea and Lampard would certainly welcome the boost ahead of a busy fixture schedule in December.