Frank Lampard claims Chelsea must improve fitness after draw with Bohemians

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New Chelsea boss Frank Lampard admitted his side need to boost their fitness after a draw with Bohemians.

The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw in Dublin after Michy Batshuayi’s opener was cancelled out by trialist Eric Molloy’s late goal.

It was Lampard’s first game after he was appointed at Stamford Bridge following his exit from Derby last week.

“Fitness was our issue, we’ve been working hard on it, even this morning,” he told a press conference after the game.

“Fitness was always going to be an issue against a team that’s halfway through their season. We certainly pushed ourselves to the limit.

“The quicker we get there the better. It’s about individuals getting fit. Some of the young lads were really good. We want to get a level of fitness and intensity in their game.”

Lampard gave Danny Drinkwater the chance to impress from the start after he was frozen out by old boss Mauricio Sarri.

Batshuayi, who had been on loan at Crystal Palace from January, also started and he fired in from close range after eight minutes.

Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kurt Zouma featured after their loans last term but Lampard was denied victory following Molloy’s 89th-minute leveller.

“I’ve enjoyed it, we’ve got great support over here. It was a tough game for us, we’ve only been here for a few days. But I’m pleased with how we got on,” Lampard added.

“I’ve been pleased with the players’ attitude since I arrived last week.”

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Newcastle to approach Sheffield Wednesday for Steve Bruce as Rafael Benitez replacement

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Newcastle are ready to make an approach to Sheffield Wednesday as they attempt to appoint Steve Bruce as Rafael Benitez’s replacement.

PA understands the 58-year-old Owls boss is the man at the top of the Magpies’ shortlist and that formal contact is imminent, with the club due to embark on their Premier League Asia Trophy trip to China on Saturday.

It is understood they would have to pay compensation of around £1million to release the Corbridge-born former Manchester United defender from his current contract.

Should Newcastle push home their interest, the former Sunderland manager will have a job on his hands to win over supporters still furious at Benitez’s departure, with some planning fresh protests over owner Mike Ashley’s controversial approach to running the club.

A series of fans groups have joined forces to call for a boycott of the opening fixture of the new Premier League season against Arsenal at St James’ on Sunday, August 11.

In addition Bruce, who has been linked with the Magpies in the past, would face the task of rebuilding a squad which has been shorn of leading scorer Ayoze Perez, striker partner Salomon Rondon, out-of-contract midfielder Mohamed Diame and loan signings Kenedy and Antonio Barreca since the end of the last campaign.

Rafael Benitez

While sources on Tyneside have insisted the £30million Leicester paid for Perez will be re-invested in the squad, a new manager will have to attract players to a club with an increasingly toxic reputation while operating under the restrictions which prompted Benitez to reject a contract extension and head for Chinese club Dalian Yifang instead.

Bruce is being targeted with 10 days having elapsed since the Spaniard’s contract expired, with a series of potential candidates, including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard and Chris Wilder, who signed a new long-term contract with Sheffield United on Tuesday evening, having distanced themselves from the job.

He played down the rumours when asked about them at Wednesday’s pre-season training camp in Portugal.

He told the Sheffield Star: “It’s news to me. God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows?

“As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow and looking forward to walking the dog.”

Bruce was appointed by the Owls in February, four months after parting company with Aston Villa, who subsequently went on to clinch promotion via the Championship play-offs under successor Dean Smith.

Meanwhile, Benitez has aimed a thinly-disguised barb at Ashley in a blog looking back over his first week as manager of Dalian.

He wrote: “I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle.”

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Arsenal confirm landmark appointment with former star Edu

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Edu has returned to Arsenal to become the club’s first technical director.

The 41-year-old played for the Gunners between 2001 and 2005 and formed part of Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ Premier League champions of 2004.

It was announced on Tuesday that the former Brazil midfielder would take on the new role at Emirates Stadium.

“In his role as technical director, Edu will coordinate the work of our first-team coaching group, the academy and player scouting and recruitment in order to oversee the constant building up and efficient strengthening of our squad,” Arsenal said in the statement confirming the deal.

Edu made 127 appearances for Arsenal and scored 12 goals and would go on to play under current Gunners head coach Unai Emery at Valencia.

He will link up with Emery and his players later this week when they travel to the United States to begin their pre-season tour after leaving a similar role with the Brazil national side following their Copa America success.

“Arsenal has always had a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to be returning to this great club in this new role,” he said.

“We have a strong squad and some very talented young players with fantastic people at every level. I’m looking forward to helping make a difference.”

Edu lifted two Premier League titles and two FA Cup trophies during his time in north London and also has previous experience of working in a technical role at Corinthians.

It is believed he played a role in helping Arsenal land the signing of highly-rated Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli, the 18-year-old arriving from Ituano last week.

And there could be more transfer activity from the club in the coming days, with reports suggesting a deal for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba is close to completion.

The 18-year-old Frenchman is expected to be loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for next season after signing for a reported £27 million and is seen as a long-term prospect by the powers that be at Arsenal.

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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