Antonio Rudiger is closing in on making his first team Chelsea return
Antonio Rudiger is closing in on making his first team Chelsea return (Picture: Getty)

Frank Lampard insists Antonio Rudiger will have an important role to play this season as the Chelsea centre-half closes in on making his first team return.

The Germany international suffered a knee injury against Manchester United in April and has missed the start of the new campaign, during which Chelsea’s defence has looked anything but secure.

Ruidger has racked up 180 minutes playing for the club’s academy side against Tottenham and Liverpool in recent weeks and Lampard insists the 26-year-old is ready to stake a claim for a spot at the heart of his defence.

‘He is fit,’ confirmed Lampard ahead of Saturday’s match against Wolves.

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‘It’s a choice for myself, but he will have an important role. We have missed him as we have with a few more front line players.

‘It is important in a team. I don’t want a young team for the sake of it. He can be influential. He is ready to take on those roles.’

Chelsea, meanwhile, have badly missed N’Golo Kante’s reassuring presence at the base of their midfield but the France international is still being troubled by an ankle injury which has restricted him to just two appearances this season.

‘N’Golo is not fit, Kovacic is,’ Lampard added. ‘This game has come too soon for him, hopefully close. We are waiting for that final step, but hopefully that will be the same time.’

Chelsea were well beaten by Wolves at Molineux last season and Lampard knows his side will face an equally difficult test in a bid to record their second league win of the season.

He said: ‘Wolves are a very good team, got a lot of credit last year and a good way of playing. Three at the back and very good going forward. They defend well and it’s a difficult atmosphere in the stadium.

‘I am very impressed by Nuno, looking from the outside and the way that he shows himself in the media and the unity they have. They have a style they believe in and I like the way he operates.’

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