West Bromwich Albion look set to be spared the full force of Frank Lampard's goal threat at The Hawthorns this weekend.
The free-scoring England midfielder is a major doubt for the Saturday lunchtime meeting with the Baggies with the hamstring strain which forced him to miss last night's international against Uruguay at Anfield. A scan has shown that he is doubtful not only for Chelsea's visit to the Albion, but next week's Champions League showdown with Barcelona in the Nou Camp.
But, just because his play-ers are not up against Lampard this time does not mean that Baggies boss Bryan Robson is not looking to them to aspire to the England star's astonishing strike rate.
Lampard's campaign tally of 19 goals in 44 games (including two against Albion at Stamford Bridge in August) is the sort of scoring ratio from a midfielder that was thought to belong to another era, from men like Terry McDermott, John Wark and, of course, Robson himself. And, in the wake of Sunday's disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough, when all Albion's best chances fell to midfielders, the Baggies boss has targeted this obvious area of improvement.
"We should have scored at least a couple," said Robson. "Goals win you games and we n eed more from our midfielders.
"If your team's going to do well, you need a couple who will get their ratio. And that's what the lads should aim for.
"Every year, I'd have been unhappy if I didn't get ten goals. That was my aim at the start of every season."
Robson plundered 176 career goals for club and country in 794 starts. And, excepting his final four years while still part of the Boro playing staff, in his time with Albion and Manchester United, he comfortably averaged ten a season. But his best
league tally for a season was 12 and even he acknowledges that he couldn't compete with Lampard's strike rate.
"Frank Lampard has an unbelievable ratio," said Robson. "And it's because he has a real belief in himself that he will score.
"That's what I've spoken about to Diomansy Kamara, Nigel Quashie and especially Jonathan Greening.
"For me, with his energy and the ability he's got, I'd expect Jonathan to score six to ten a season.
"He's got great stamina, he knows the game, he reads play and gets in the right areas.
"He scores all the time in training and terrific goals too.
"But, against Boro, he had two great chances. And on each occasion he missed the target."
Greening has scored just twice in 63 Albion starts, part of an overall career tally that has seen him hit just eight goals in 200 league appearances. And his blank against Boro was made all the more embarrassing after his pre-match war of words against his old club.
"It's frustrating after the goal he scored in our previous home game against Black-burn," said Robson. "If he'd scored again at the weekend, the confidence might have been there to go on a run.
"I've watched him in train-ing and he can strike a ball as well as Frank Lampard. But it's just the positive attitude he needs."
If Lampard does miss out on Saturday, Robson acknowledges that it will hardly leave Chelsea weak.
"When you've still got Essien, Gudjohnsen, Geremi and Wright-Phillips to come in, they've still got top drawer players."
As for Albion, while Steve Watson has "got a chance" of being back for the weekend, Zoltan Gera is still not ready and is being targeted for the Blues game. n Nigel Quashie is not to contest his FA charge when his case his heard at the FA's Soho headquarters on Tuesday.
The Albion midfielder, already banned for four games as a result of Sunday's red card, is expected to receive further punishment for using foul and abusive language to the fourth official.
But he has decided not to appeal and has instead sent a letter of apology as well as a written plea of mitigation. He is expected to get an additional one-game ban, which would sideline him until the Aston Villa game on April 9. ..SUPL: