The 38-year-old has come out of retirement on a non-contract basis to fill a vacant goalkeeping spot on the Blues’ roster
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard would have no problem in fielding Petr Cech between the posts after the retired goalkeeper made a shock appearance in the Blues’ 2020-21 Premier League squad.
Cech, 38, retired from professional football at the end of the 2018-19 season after 15 years of sterling service in English football for Chelsea and later Arsenal, which included four Premier League title triumphs as well as victory in the 2011-12 Champions League.
But on Tuesday the Czech legend appeared in Chelsea’s 25-man squad for the current campaign, prompting speculation that the Premier League had initially made a mistake in including his name alongside Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero as one of the Blues’ four goalkeepers.
Chelsea, though, clarified that Cech had been called up in exceptional circumstances as a non-contract player, and Lampard went on to reveal that the veteran has been active in club training for some time prior to the decision to take him out of retirement.
“Petr has been training with the goalkeepers for a little while now. He has been training a lot of days with them which is valuable for experience [of the other goalkeepers] and that he is passing on that quality to them,” the manager explained to reporters following Tuesday’s 0-0 Champions League draw with Sevilla at Stamford Bridge.
“We had that space in the squad and we know this year, it looks like no other because of Covid and isolation so it was a very easy one. Pete still does his day job and he is there if we need him.
“He is fit, very fit. He is still relatively young. He finished playing when he possibly could have carried on. He has taken on his role at Chelsea very well and he has been very helpful to me and we work closely together. He trains fairly regularly and he is fit.”
Lampard admitted that he does not expect to have to draw on Cech’s services over the course of the season, but that he would have no doubts over fielding him should he need to.
“Whether we will see him much this season, I am not sure. Has I mentioned before, it depends on how the season goes with COVID and isolation. We felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad for that reason and it helps me training every day,” he added.
“When he is in such good form it can only help the goalkeepers we have to see one of the world’s best in the modern era amongst us.
“It is definitely not done for the romance. Pete certainly enjoys the training because that is how he is. I would enjoy training more if my calves didn’t go tight every time I tried to sprint these days. With Pete I wouldn’t expect to happen this year.
“But I do know with the way he is and how fit he is that if we are in crisis times then you couldn’t ask for much better than having Petr Cech around. I don’t expect it, but nobody expected what we have seen in the last six or seven months around the world.”
Chelsea’s defensive frailty has been widely highlighted under Lampard, with the Blues conceding nine goals in their opening five Premier League clashes.
Tuesday marked only their third clean sheet of 2020-21, one of which came against Championship side Barnsley; but Lampard was encouraged with what he saw from new signing Mendy.
“I think the way he has played in the three games since being here, he has played very well. Made a good save today, two clean sheets,” he said when asked if the ex-Rennes No. 1 was now his first choice in goal.
“So at the minute, yes. I said when he came in it was good for competition. We knew his qualities and he is showing them already. So as it stands, yes it is. But that always remains something that is up for grabs, so that is why you have competition at clubs. The way he is playing I am very happy.”