Tammy Abraham is back to square one with his troublesome ankle, with rest prescribed for the Chelsea striker over the weekend while his club play at Bournemouth and Frank Lampard unsure when he will be able to call on him again.
Abraham sustained the injury against Arsenal in January when he slipped and banged into the advertising boards at Stamford Bridge but, with Lampard having used his three substitutions, he battled on.
There were fears of a hairline fracture, although scans were clear, and Abraham started Chelsea’s next Premier League game at Leicester after a pain-killing injection only to feel discomfort again.
He missed the Manchester United game before he played as a substitute against Tottenham and Bayern Munich. In the latter game, he took a knock from Jérôme Boateng and, having continued, seemed to pull up in the post-match warm-down.
It was easy to detect the frustration in Lampard as he discussed the situation, which will doubtless be felt, too, by the England manager, Gareth Southgate, who has two of his other strikers – Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford – out with long-term injuries.
“Tammy is not active for the next couple of days,” Lampard said. “How long is he going to be out? I don’t know. The inflammation is causing pain, so we are looking at ways to get rid of it. Could surgery be an option? As far as I know, no. It’s certainly not been mentioned.
“It’s a month later [from the Arsenal game] and we’re still talking about it so it’s been a frustrating one. We have seen him come back and then go away again. Sometimes things that are [to do with] pain threshold are like that. If he is not comfortable, he has to come out for a few days at least and see where it is going.”
Lampard was more plainly annoyed at Willian, who is out of contract in the summer and suggested on Tuesday that he could leave. Negotiations over a new deal are deadlocked, with the 31-year-old wanting three years and Chelsea offering two.
“Some of the headlines this week had a slight sense of frustration for me because we are working day to day to finish the job this season and we are not jumping ahead to the summer,” Lampard said. “It’s an ongoing conversation, so maybe not ideal timing [from Willian]. It’s not over. We’ll see.”