Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed Frank Lampard will be required to play some part against Chelsea when his former club travel to the Etihad Stadium to face the Premier League champions on Sunday.
Lampard left Chelsea this summer as the club’s record goalscorer having found the net on 211 occasions during his 13 glorious seasons at Stamford Bridge, and was initially unveiled as a marquee acquisition for new MLS outfit New York City FC.
The 36-year-old signed a two-year contact with New York but, with the franchise unable to join MLS until 2015, Lampard became available on loan until he is due to begin official duties with his new side in the new year.
Given their ties with NYCFC, with both clubs backed by the same owners, Manchester City were able to complete a temporary deal for Lampard, who signed a six-month contract - a bitter pill to swallow for Chelsea supporters.
With Lampard having made his City debut in the draw with Arsenal last weekend, things will become even more real for Chelsea fans on Sunday with the club legend available to make an appearance against them.
When Lampard arrived in Manchester it had been claimed that he requested not to play in this specific encounter with Chelsea, although Pellegrini suggested on Friday afternoon that the midfielder was afforded no such privilege.
“Frank is part of our squad and tomorrow I will give the squad list for that game, but for sure he will be involved,” Pellegrini said at a pre-match press conference.
“I don’t think it is a difficult situation for him. I think Frank didn’t continue in Chelsea because Chelsea didn’t want him, not because he wanted to come here to Manchester City.
“He couldn’t continue with the team he played for his whole life for. He has all the rights to continue playing football. He arrived here and we are very happy with him.”
It would, however, seem unlikely that Lampard will be included from the start against Chelsea, even if he will be fresh given that he was not included for the midweek Champions League defeat away to Bayern Munich.
City have no injury concerns from that last gasp loss in Munich, but Lampard’s performance against Arsenal was so sub-standard that it would be something of a surprise if he is given a start against his former club.
Lampard struggled desperately at the Emirates Stadium to cope with the demands of the encounter, and was taken off at half-time having contributed pretty much only a yellow card during the opening 45 minutes.
Chelsea, though, are likely to sit back much as they did so successfully last season which would allow Lampard more opportunity to get into the game, although it is difficult to imagine him being included ahead of Yaya Toure, whose injury allowed him into the game against Arsenal.