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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 12, 2006

Shield has pre-season feeling for Lampard

Frank Lampard admits tomorrow's FA Community Shield against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium will still have something of a pre-season feel to it as Chelsea step up their preparations for the new campaign.

The Reds, along with Arsenal, have already returned to competitive action as they look to qualify for the Champions League.

Chelsea, meanwhile, recently returned from a trip to the United States, with many of their World Cup stars not yet firing on all cylinders.

Manager Jose Mourinho made several changes during the 1-1 draw with Celtic at Stamford Bridge earlier this week, but has promised to give the occasion tomorrow the respect it deserves.

Summer signings Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko are both expected to feature in Cardiff, although England's Joe Cole and first-choice goalkeeper Peter Cech are both missing through injury while France midfielder Claude Makelele will be rested.

Lampard admits in the circumstances, the tempo of the Blues' game cannot be expected to be at maximum.

'The Community Shield this year is a match we want to win, but it becomes more like a pre-season game,' the England midfielder said.

'The season is just two weeks away and the first Premiership game is what we are looking at.

'It is important to get a good start to the league.'

Despite their dominance of the Premiership for a second consecutive season last term, Lampard maintains no-one at Chelsea is resting on their laurels just yet.

He said: 'It is probably the strongest squad we have had for a couple of years, since I have been here - but that means nothing until you win something.'

Tomorrow's match was originally scheduled to be hosted at the new-look Wembley.

However, with construction there still dogged by delays, Chelsea manager Mourinho felt it was perhaps fitting this clash would not go down in history as the one to open a new era for the national stadium.

He said: 'I am disappointed, yes, but at this moment I prefer it is not at the new Wembley, because I prefer the first game in Wembley to be a really big, big game, where everybody is going at maximum level and every supporter goes for a big occasion.

'I believe the first game at Wembley should be a big match for the international team, or a cup final for the clubs.'

The Chelsea boss added: 'But we will wait, we will go there.'

Mourinho fully intends to send out a competitive side tomorrow, but accepts Liverpool will have been more thoroughly prepared because of their European clash against Maccabi Haifa earlier this week.

'We have to play seriously,' he insisted.

'I am not going to play like the way I did against Celtic, changing five or six players at half-time, and leaving guys on the bench - I will try to play the best team.'

The Chelsea boss noted: 'Liverpool have already played in the Champions League, have been training for more than a month and are more than ready to play us.

'Not many of my players have had 90 minutes, so we have to look at this game also as a way to improve and prepare ourselves for the season.'