x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Europa League: Rafael Benitez chooses to rest Frank Lampard

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez says he wants Frank Lampard 'managed' to be 100 per cent for the rest of the season, and will rest him for the London side's Europa League tie against Sparta Prague.

Manager Rafael Benitez says he fully expects Frank Lampard to break Chelsea's all-time goal record.
Manager Rafael Benitez says he fully expects Frank Lampard to break Chelsea's all-time goal record.

Frank Lampard will have to wait to score his 200th goal for Chelsea as the interim manager Rafael Benitez has chosen to rest the midfielder for Thursday night's Europa League tie against Sparta Prague.

Lampard's Stamford Bridge future may be in doubt but the 34 year old's goal-scoring prowess is not, having fired five goals in his past six games for the club.

That run has seen Lampard move just three goals shy of Bobby Tambling's all-time record of 202 for Chelsea - a target Benitez fully expects Lampard to pass before his contract runs out at the end of the season.

However, the midfielder will not be able to add to that haul tonight as Benitez plans to rest him for the last-32 tie with Sparta, for which the Londoners boast a one-goal lead from last week's first leg.

"Lampard will not be in the squad tomorrow because we have to manage it a little bit," Benitez said, with Sunday's Premier League trip to second-place Manchester City clearly in mind. "If he can score a lot of goals it will be fantastic for him and will be fantastic for us.

"Everybody knows that he is close. I am sure they will try to help if they have a chance. If we have a penalty, he can take it and things like this.

"But the main thing is he's doing well, scoring goals. We have more competition now and that's good for me. It's a problem, but a good one because we have too many games, so to have many players available is good."

The defender Branislav Ivanovic will also be rested for the game against the Czech side, while Chelsea will have to do without the cup-tied Demba Ba.

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has hailed the "warrior spirit" of his star striker Luis Suarez.

Suarez looked far from happy to be substituted with 12 minutes remaining of Sunday's 5-0 Premier League hammering of Swansea City.

The Uruguayan had responded well to the frustration of squandering a number of chances in last Thursday's Europa League defeat at Zenit Saint Petersburg by scoring in an influential display.

But Rodgers wanted to give the 26 year old some rest ahead of Thursday night's return leg against Zenit at Anfield, when the Reds must overturn a 2-0 deficit to reach the last 16.

Rodgers said: "He just wants to help the team so much.

"If you look at the guy, coming back after the game at Zenit, when he could have been disappointed having had some chances - he is a real warrior of spirit, and he is a winner.

"He didn't want to come off. He wanted to stay on and get more goals."

Rodgers added: "He is going to be very important for us tomorrow night. Giving him that little breather - at the time it is difficult for him to accept because he wanted to play - but he is a critical player for us."

Suarez is likely to carry the main burden of the attack against the Russians with Daniel Sturridge ineligible to play in the competition.

His fellow forward Fabio Borini is also ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury in the Swansea clash at Anfield.

Martin Skrtel also looks likely to miss the Zenit return, the defender having missed training on the eve of the game.

Rodgers said of the Slovakian: "He is being assessed ... It is highly unlikely he will be involved."

Other English teams in action Thursday night include Tottenham Hotspur, who take a slender 2-1 lead to France thanks to two superb Gareth Bale strikes against Lyon at White Hart Lane last week.

And Newcastle United know a score draw will be enough to send them through at the expense of Ukraine club Metalist Kharkiv after the game at St James' Park ended in a stalemate.

 

THE FIXTURES

Rubin Kazan v Atletico Madrid (agg 2-0), 9pm (UAE time)

CFR Cluj v Inter Milan (0-2), 10pm

Dnipro v Basel (0-2), 10pm

Metalist Kharkiv v Newcastle United (0-0), 10pm

Genk v Stuttgart (1-1), 10pm

Lazio v Borussia Monchengladbach (3-3), 10pm

Lyon v Tottenham (1-2), 10pm

Benfica v Bayer Leverkusen (1-0), 12.05am (Friday)

Bordeaux v Dynamo Kiev (1-1), 12.05am (Friday)

Chelsea v Sparta Prague (1-0), 12.05am (Friday)

Fenerbahce v BATE Borisov (0-0), 12.05am (Friday)

Hannover v Anzhi Makhachkala (1-3), 12.05am (Friday)

Liverpool v Zenit Saint Petersburg (0-2), 12.05am (Friday)

Olympiakos v Levante (0-3), 12.05am (Friday)

Plzen v Napoli (3-0), 12.05am (Friday)

Steaua Bucharest v Ajax (0-2), 12.05am (Friday)

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