CITY ARE

Midweek Sport - - SPORTS - By GRA­HAM CHASE

FRANK LAM­PARD reck­ons play­ing for Manch­ester City has made him feel YOUNG again.

The 36-year-old’s im­pres­sive start to life at the Eti­had Sta­dium has been in­ter­rupted by a mus­cle prob­lem that caused him to be stretchered off in the 4-1 win over Tot­ten­ham.

The thigh in­jury kept the mid­fielder out of last night’s Cham­pi­ons League tussle with CSKA Moscow.

But Lam­pard, who is on loan at City from MLS out­fit New York City, says mov­ing to the Premier League cham­pi­ons has helped him re­dis­cover his true game.

He came off the bench to grab a cru­cial equaliser against Chelsea that pre­vented his ta­ble-top­ping old club from dis­ap­pear­ing into the sun­set.

And the Eng­land veteran fol­lowed that up with two strikes in the 7-0 Cap­i­tal One Cup thump­ing of Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and another in the 4-2 win at Hull.

For his fi­nal three years at Chelsea, Lam­pard an­chored the mid­field, when he played, to al­low young­sters like Eden Haz­ard to flour­ish.

But now he be­lieves he is back play­ing his true role – and that is why he has been such a suc­cess after hav­ing the shack­les taken off by City boss Manuel Pel­le­grini.

Lam­pard said: “I’ve worked on my tim­ing for years. When I was a kid my dad was al­ways very force­ful about me ar­riv­ing in the box as much as I could, which is what I al­ways try to do.

“The one thing I’ve found out about City very quickly is that with the build-up play, amount of pos­ses­sion in the op­po­nents’ half and qual­ity we have in the squad, I get so many chances to make runs into the box.

Adapt

“You get a real con­fi­dence each time that one of your team-mates will find you.

“With David Silva, for in­stance, you know that if you make a run the ball will come to you on a six­pence and that’s some­thing I re­ally en­joy.

“Also, the man­ager has given me li­cence to get in the box when­ever I can.

“The last three years at Chelsea I was more of a hold­ing mid­fielder, get­ting for­ward only oc­ca­sion­ally. That was be­cause they brought in so many num­ber 10s, such as Haz­ard and Os­car, that I had to adapt.

“I’ve played as more of an at­tack­ing mid­fielder at City and it’s made me feel young again!

“I’ve been given a new lease of life that I’m re­ally en­joy­ing. I’m rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity to at­tack and get into the box, so I’m hop­ing more chances will come along in the fu­ture.”

Lam­pard claims that leav­ing London for the first time has given his ca­reer the jolt it needed and taken him out of his com­fort zone.

He added: “Ev­ery­thing was so easy for me in that I’d lived in London for a long time and didn’t have to think about the jour­ney to and from the train­ing ground.

“Com­ing to City meant that I had to get to know the lads and ev­ery­one con­nected with the club and start from scratch.

“All those are chal­lenges I’ve re­ally en­joyed – but I didn’t ex­pect to en­joy them quite as much as I have.

“I thought com­ing up to Manch­ester would be a shock to the sys­tem, but I never re­alised it would be a shock in a good way.”

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