Lampard – Don’t mention transfer ban

Frank Lampard still searching for his first win as Chelsea boss.

Frank Lampard has banned Chelsea's players from talking about the club's transfer embargo as he aims to maintain high standards at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard returned to west London last month as boss knowing he would be unable to strengthen his squad until next summer because of sanctions imposed by world governing body FIFA.

Despite the recruitment restrictions, the 41-year-old believes they can remain competitive after last season finishing third in the Premier League and winning the Europa League under predecessor Maurizio Sarri.

“I don’t want – and I said this to the players the first time I spoke to them – I don’t want talk of the ban, I don’t want talk of what is success, what might be success, and any lowering of standards,” said Lampard, who takes his new team to Manchester United on Sunday.

“I want to set out as we should do. And when I looked around the room I was looking at top players everywhere, and a big squad full of quality. Can we remain competitive when we are in this position? I believe we can.”

Chelsea’s current predicament has prompted plenty of pundits and former players to forecast a difficult campaign for the club.

United States forward Christian Pulisic – whose £58million signing from Borussia Dortmund was agreed before the ban – was the only new arrival during the summer, while the Blues sold influential forward Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and allowed experienced defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill to depart.

Lampard – who left Derby after one season in charge to replace Sarri – wants his squad to use the negative predictions as motivation to prove the doubters wrong.

“I love it. I love listening to the radio and hearing predictions when we’re not in the top four,” he added. “Because it means that there is a challenge, and there isn’t anything better in football than proving someone, or people, or an idea, wrong. We should all accept that challenge.

“There are two things, the outside world and what they think of us, and what we think within these walls. We believe we can really have a go.”

Lampard, who had Chelsea youngsters Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount on loan at Pride Park last season, will use the unusual circumstances to give chances to some of the club’s academy prospects, with the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, when he recovers from his Achilles injury, among those he will rely on.