x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Chelsea will not sell Frank Lampard, says Alex Ferguson

The Manchester United manager is short of midfielders, but does not believe their rivals would let go of the England international.

Sir Alex Ferguson has appeared to have ruled out a move for Frank Lampard during this month's transfer window.

The strength of the Manchester United squad is once again the subject of hot debate among supporters after successive losses to Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.

Midfield is an obvious area of concern, which has only heightened since the retirement of Paul Scholes and subsequent long-term absences of Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher.

And Lampard's name has now started to appear in connection with United.

The veteran England man, 33, does not appear to be a favourite of Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, and with 18 months left on his contract, it would appear to be a smart move if United could get him.

"You are not going to tell me Chelsea would sell Frank Lampard to Manchester United in January. Do you really believe that?" Ferguson said.

"There is no foundation to that. Chelsea are like us. They want to do something. The second half of the season is going to be important to them.

"If they want to try and win the league they will need to have all their best players."

Tellingly, Ferguson's comments did not convey a lack of interest, just a belief Chelsea would want to keep Lampard.

United are preparing for Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, to pull a surprise by naming Yaya Toure in his starting line-up for Sunday's FA Cup tie at the Etihad Stadium.

The Ivory Coast management informed City that Toure was required to attend a team meeting in Paris today ahead of a flight to Abu Dhabi for a two-week training camp before the African Nations Cup.

United's Chris Smalling (tonsillitis) is out of Sunday's third-round tie, which is likely to mean Phil Jones partnering Rio Ferdinand in defence.