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Rudiger ready to step up

Antonio Rudiger says he is ready to stand up as the leader to stabilise Chelsea's defence this season.

The fit-again Germany defender insists he can be the one to be a "commanding" presence to shore up Frank Lampard's backline.

Rudiger impressed on his return from a pelvic injury in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Lille that eased Chelsea through to the Champions League last 16.

The 26-year-old had only just beaten knee surgery when he slipped at Wolves in September to sustain a new problem, but is now itching to call Chelsea's defensive shots.

Asked if he relishes being a leader, Rudiger said: "I see myself as helping the others, as always. As I did in the other years in the team when I played with David Luiz or Gary Cahill.

"I am always loud on the pitch, especially with the young guys because you need to help them. There will be a period, that is normal because we are all human, that you will fall a bit, the performances will go down.

"But there especially you need to, and me as the most experienced in the back, need to help those young guys. I'm in for that."

Chelsea can bolster their squad in January after their two-window FIFA transfer ban was lifted on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Lampard is eyeing a left-back as well as a clutch of possible attacking reinforcements, with Chelsea's transfer funds boosted by netting up to £150million from Eden Hazard's summer Real Madrid move.

Rudiger's return to full fitness could ease any need for a new face at centre-back, easing the burden on Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori.

Chelsea, who are in fourth place in the Premier League table with five points between themselves and fifth-placed Manchester United, return to action on Saturday when they host struggling Bournemouth.

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