Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has opened up on the difficult preparations for upcoming behind-closed-doors games, insisting the experience in empty stadiums "will be different for everyone".
Premier League clubs across England are currently gearing up for a return to the pitch after a three-month hiatus, with lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic slowly beginning to ease.
All of the season's remaining fixtures are set to be played behind-closed-doors, with social distancing measures still in effect due to the continued threat of Covid-19. Supporters will be forced to watch on from their homes as the players get back to business in stadiums which are likely to be completely devoid of atmosphere for the foreseeable future.
Lampard oversaw a return to full contact training at Chelsea's main facility in Cobham earlier this month, and is in the process of getting his squad back up to speed following an extended period in quarantine.
The 41-year-old says that although his sessions have been fairly standard in terms of format, he is not sure how his players will adapt to the new conditions when they take on Aston Villa on June 21.
"In football terms, you prepare pretty much the same," Lampard told Chelsea's official website. "There will definitely be different variables around the game now.
"We’ll have to try to make sure we prepare as well as we can in terms of being ready for the change in atmosphere. We’ve had discussions about that with the players. It will be different for everyone. It may change the pace of the game, it might change the slight tone of it. We’ve seen that slightly in Germany and we need to be ready to adapt to that.
"All we can do really is get ourselves as fit as possible. That’s been a difficult task in the short term, to get fit when we’re used to longer pre-seasons.
"We have worked hard on that, and when it comes to match days we’ll have to make sure we’re very ready for the changes from the norm, and make sure it doesn’t affect our performance on the pitch."
Chelsea will welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge four days after their trip to Villa Park, with Lampard well aware of the challenge facing his side in both fixtures as they look to secure a top-four finish.
He added: "With so much time off, and so much time to sit and scrutinise the table and your positions, for everyone, there is going to be so much spotlight on this. Every game now in the nine league games is going to have something on it for different reasons. The first two games are good examples of that.
"Villa are fighting for their lives, City have huge quality, we know that. It’s a difficult start and we’ll need to be ready."