Frank Lampard will let Chelsea youth players mix with the first team at Cobham

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By all accounts, Frank Lampard is within touching distance of completing a return to Chelsea as their new manager.

The Derby boss - at least for the time being - was excused from the Rams’ first pre-season session on Monday in order to thrash out the final details of his contract at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard and Chelsea are believed to have reached an agreement during those talks, which likely means confirmation of his appointment is simply a matter of time.

Given the 41-year-old has only one year of relevant experience, the fact he’s even in the running for the job - let alone leading the queue - represents a major shift in the Blues’ manager recruitment policy.

Lampard has won many admirers over the course of his 12 months at Pride Park, but his CV is a far cry from that of the typical candidate Chelsea approach in their time of need.

With the exceptions of Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Villas-Boas, the seven other permanent managers Roman Abramovich has fired came to the club with an international reputation.

Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelotti, and the list goes on.

But considering the Special One still boasts the longest reign in SW6 during his first spell between 2004 and 2007, perhaps it’s time for a change.

Luckily, what Lampard lacks in time spent in the dugout, he makes up for with fresh ideas.

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According to The Telegraph, Lampard is planning to take the unprecedented step of merging senior and youth team training at Cobham.

The ex-England international wants to facilitate interaction between the two squads as a signal of his ambition to give the brightest talents a chance at the highest level.

To that end, it’s also understood Lampard will instruct his academy coaches to schedule their training times before or after the first-team session so he can watch.

Villas-Boas completely disconnected the squads when he took over in 2011, forcing the two groups to eat in separate areas and work out in different gyms.

The practice has stood ever since, and abolishing it sends a message that will certainly please the Chelsea fans who’ve been clamouring for greater focus on youth development.

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Although everything appears to be in place for Lampard to implement this untried philosophy, Petr Cech - now a technical and performance advisor at the club - insists a final decision hasn’t been made.

"The club has identified several candidates, the situation is open," he told Czech News Agency, via Goal.

"Frank is one of them. Before the first team begins preparations we want to solve the issue of the new manager.

"The most important thing is to choose a new manager, it will be crucial in the context of further work.

"The coach will have ideas for the team, we will be completing the team for next season. He will have to look at the players and decide who will go to Japan."

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