(Reuters) – Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was looking forward to his first meeting with Everton counterpart Frank Lampard, adding that the former midfielder will always be a Stamford Bridge great despite his difficult managerial stint at the London club.
Tuchel succeeded Lampard in the Chelsea job in January last year, leading them to the FA Cup final and Champions League title within months of taking charge.
“(Frank) sent me a very kind, respectful message after I took over at Chelsea that meant a lot,” Tuchel told reporters ahead of Sunday’s clash at Goodison Park.
“I was a huge fan of him as a player and he is and will remain a legend at our club and this is a given. It is a very exciting week for me, I would love to meet him. We need the points, they need the points urgently as well.”
Chelsea are third in the league while 18th-placed Everton find themselves in a relegation scrap, two points from the safety zone with six matches remaining.
Lampard, who replaced Rafa Benitez in January, said Chelsea were a big part of his life but that wouldn’t alter the nature of the task at hand.
“My only thought is preparing the team to try to win the game and that’s what every single person at Chelsea would expect me to do. I’ll focus completely on that,” Lampard said on Friday.
Centre back Yerry Mina and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be available against Chelsea but defender Ben Godfrey has been ruled out due to a quadriceps injury and could miss the remainder of the season.
Asked if he would stay at Everton if they were relegated, Lampard added: “I don’t want to get drawn on that question but what I will say is I’ve loved every minute of being at this club. I’ve been welcomed incredibly well by the fans and I will do everything to get this club back to where I want it to be.”
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)