Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Lampard delights Benitez

Reports suggest Frank Lampard could stay with Chelsea beyond this season

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez praised Frank Lampard after reports emerged that the midfielder could yet stay at Stamford Bridge.

Following Lampard's decisive goal for England in the 2-1 win over Brazil, it was reported the 34-year-old midfielder had been offered a new contract to extend his 12-year stay at Chelsea. Such a move would suggest an about-turn by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who previously had been prepared to allow Lampard to leave at the end of the season.

"He's scoring goals for us already and I think he's doing well," Benitez told Chelsea TV. "Ninety-four caps is a fantastic achievement. If he can get 100 it will be really positive and it will mean he will be fit, he will be playing and he will be doing well."

A 27th international goal on the occasion of his 94th cap showed Lampard still has a future with England, who beat Brazil for the first time in 23 years, and prompted England boss Roy Hodgson to state his preference for the midfielder to stay in Europe ahead of the 2014 World Cup. That could yet be at Stamford Bridge.

Despite the uncertainty over his future, Lampard has performed well this term, scoring 12 times to move five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling.

Should Lampard stay on, it would come as a welcome boost following the contract extension signed by Ashley Cole, who won his 100th England cap against Brazil.

Benitez added: "Ashley Cole - 100 caps is an amazing, a great achievement for anyone, and for a player in the England squad, which is very competitive, so even better."

Lampard said of Cole on chelseafc.com: "It's a fantastic achievement. He's been an unbelievably consistent performer both for club and country and he started all of those games which makes it all the more incredible.

"The consistency levels he's shown, particularly when you consider Leighton Baines has been around for a while now, have been great. For me, he's been one of the best in the world and to be the first full-back to reach 100 caps is brilliant."

Overall Benitez was happy with the midweek international fixtures, reporting no fresh injuries as players returned to Chelsea's Surrey training base. "The international break normally is a problem but this one we can consider was positive," Benitez said.

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