Benitez is guarded over the future of Lampard

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (left) celebrates with team-mate Juan Mata.
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (left) celebrates with team-mate Juan Mata.
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Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez would not be drawn on the future of Frank Lampard yesterday, merely expressing his view that the midfielder remains focused on the task at hand.

The 34-year-old has been the subject of rife speculation in recent weeks and days, with his contract at Stamford Bridge due to expire in the summer.

Lampard’s agent Steve Kutner has claimed the midfielder will not be offered a new contract by the West London club under any circumstance, while reports yesterday suggest Manchester United are plotting a deal.

Such a move would devastate Chelsea’s fan base and was not something Benitez was willing to even comprehend yesterday.

“I think it’s too early to talk about teams and the future,” the Spaniard said. “Frank is under contract and playing for us. That’s it.

“You know my idea. He’s doing well, working very hard and I will try to bring the best from him.

“My position is exactly the same and if he can carry on scoring goals, I will be really pleased.

“And if Frank can carry on scoring goals and we can win games, I’ll be even happier.”

Benitez would not go into any detail on Lampard’s future, but was far more forthcoming when it came to the injury status of captain John Terry.

Having been expected to miss three weeks with a knee injury sustained in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool, the 32-year-old has 
instead been missing for nearly two months.

However, Terry is closing in on a first-team return and is due to feature for Chelsea’s Under-21 side against Fulham tomorrow.

“John Terry has been training and we are considering playing him on Thursday with the 
Under-21 team,” Benitez said.

“The good thing is he is now training so now he can carry on. We will see how he feels on Thursday and hopefully he can play more minutes in the short term so we will see.

“At least that is a positive thing because before he was just doing the warm-up. Now he is training and can play so I think we are obviously closer.”

Asked if Terry could be involved in the Premier League match with Stoke this weekend, he added: “It depends on his reaction. Obviously Thursday will be a different kind of game, but we will see how he feels.

“If he can feel okay and train the day after, at least we can start considering him as an option.”

Tonight’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg with Swansea will come too soon for the Chelsea captain, though.

Terry will be joined on the sidelines by Petr Cech, while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are also unavailable for the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

“We want to win all the games,” Benitez said. “In any club it is important but especially when you are challenging and fighting for trophies.

“We know it is the semi-final and we will try to be in the final. We have a lot of respect for Swansea because it is a good team and they are doing well, but this will 
be an interesting game for the fans.”

Tonight’s match kicks off a period of eight games in 25 days for Chelsea, which will test Benitez’s squad to the maximum.

Reports of January reinforcements are rife, with Metalist Kharkiv’s Taison supposedly close to a move to Stamford Bridge.

“You know and we know we will see a lot of names in the newspapers,” Benitez said.

“Sometimes it is because it’s true, sometimes it’s the agents, sometimes it’s because they don’t have anything to talk about.

“It is normal in the transfer market, but for us we just concentrate on football and playing Swansea.”

There has also been talk that Chelsea are planning a summer move for Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, another link about which Benitez was coy.

“I am really pleased with my squad, with my players, they are doing well and hopefully we can improve them,” he said.

“I will not talk about the market, sorry. I know it is January but we do our business between us.”