x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Benitez happy with Lampard on status quo

Chelsea coach is without goalkeeper Cech and defender Terry for tonight's semi-final against Swansea.

Frank Lampard's agent is unequivocal that Chelsea will not offer the 35-year-old midfielder another contract when the current one ends.
Frank Lampard's agent is unequivocal that Chelsea will not offer the 35-year-old midfielder another contract when the current one ends.

Rafael Benitez, Chelsea's interim manager, refused to be drawn on the future of Frank Lampard yesterday, saying only that the midfielder remains focused on the task at hand.

The 34 year old, who is expected to start tonight in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg tie with Swansea City at Stamford Bridge, has been the subject of rising speculation in recent weeks, with his contract at the club due to expire in the summer.

Lampard's agent Steve Kutner has claimed the midfielder will not be offered a new deal by the west London club under any circumstance, with reports yesterday suggesting Manchester United are planning to make a bid to bring the England international to Old Trafford.

Benitez said yesterday: "I think it's too early to talk about teams and the future.

"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 John Terry.

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

However, the Chelsea captain is closing in on a first-team return and while he will not feature tonight he is due to play for the club'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 that 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."

Terry will be joined on the sidelines by the goalkeeper Petr Cech for the game with Swansea, while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are also unavailable.

"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."

'First half' works best for Laudrup

Michael Laudrup believes his Swansea City side will benefit from being on the road in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea tonight as they chase a first appearance in a major Wembley final.

Given Bradford City and Aston Villa are the other sides left in the competition, Swansea fans could be forgiven for cursing their luck when they drew Rafael Benitez’s team in the last four.

But that is not the way Laudrup sees it, and he believes his side have been given an advantage by going to Stamford Bridge first.

The Swansea manager said: “I always preferred being away first in these games. I have done both as a manager and a player and if I had to choose I would prefer to play away first.

“The different thing is it is not a complete game, it is only the first half and we play the second half [at home] in two weeks.

“It is difficult to play a game when you know you have another one to come, but we know it is important to get a result so we can play the second leg in front of our fans with the possibility to go through.”

Laudrup added it was a great opportunity for Swansea to reach a major final. “As a smaller club we cannot normally compete for trophies, so to be so close to a final is fantastic,” he said. “It is the first time for us to be in a semi-final for some time.

“It is the first time since 1964, that was a good year as I was born then so it is 48 years ago and it shows what an achievement this is.

“It will be difficult, we know that. To beat Chelsea in one game is difficult, over two games it is even more difficult.

“But we have to give it a try, and we will give it a try to I hope the confidence we have built up in recent weeks can help us.”

Laudrup should have Angel Rangel fit for the match after the defender recovered from a calf problem.