Frank Lampard is still part of my Chelsea plan, says Roberto Di Matteo

Chelsea midfielder set to start tonight after being left out of team for Stoke and Arsenal


As the changing of the guard continues apace at Chelsea, the long-serving Frank Lampard was last night assured that he still has a part to play under the new regime.

The 34-year-old's future is in doubt as his contract runs out at the end of the season and Chelsea are not in the habit of offering anything more than a one-year extension to 30-somethings. They may or may not be prepared to make an exception for Ashley Cole, who in many people's eyes remains as good a left-back as any in the world, but another 12 months would appear to be the best Lampard could hope for. That was the offer to Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, both of whom decided to sail away for a lucrative sojourn in Shanghai.

From January, Lampard is entitled to talk to other clubs and, after 16 seasons in England, 11 of them at Chelsea, a swansong abroad would hold some appeal. More immediately, though, he must hope for a place in the Champions League tie at Nordsjaelland tonight after being allowed only nine minutes of the two recent Premier League wins against Stoke and Arsenal.

"His future is very strong at this club," said manager Roberto di Matteo. "He's a very important player for us. I've had conversations with him, which I do on a regular basis with the players because I like to exchange opinions with them.

"He's very supportive of the team when he's not in the team. When he's in the team, he's a great performer as well. From that point of view, we're fortunate to have a very strong squad with international players, and going forward with a busy schedule it's important we use these players."

If Lampard comes back into the team, it is more likely to be as one of the two defensive midfielders which, Di Matteo says, is a role that still allows him scope to push forward.

"He's been playing that role, but I don't think I've ever taken those other things away from him," said the Chelsea manager. "Those are his strengths, but you sometimes need discipline in that role. It's important for the balance of the team.

"But he's played there magnificently at the beginning of this season and last season as well."

The new attacking midfield trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar – who scored both goals in the opening 2-2 draw against Juventus – and Juan Mata confirmed in Saturday's 2-1 victory at the Emirates that they are establishing a rapport but at least one of them can expect to be rested. Ryan Bertrand could come in on the left and Victor Moses has claims to start for the second time after three impressive cameos as a substitute.

With Daniel Sturridge having stayed at home to continue his recovery from a hamstring strain, fellow striker Fernando Torres seems certain to continue a run of games in which he is slowly finding some form. Although a second goal against Arsenal rather than an air-shot when rounding the goalkeeper would have boosted his confidence further.

Like Arsenal, whose opening away game was against Montpellier, Di Matteo's team are facing an unfashionable side who caused a sensation last season by winning their domestic championship for the first time. Only founded in 1991, after one of the many mergers that characterise Danish football, they did not adopt their current name until nine years ago, following a financial scandal involving the previous chairman.

"This is the biggest test of all, against the Champions League winners and leaders of the Premier League," said coach Kasper Hjulmand. "Maybe one salary of their players would be our whole budget for the year. We have to go out and play with passion and courage."

Andreas Laudrup, the 21 year-old son of Swansea's manager Michael, is in the squad, but he is not expected to start.

With a home ground holding barely 10,000, Nordsjaelland will set a club attendance record by playing this game at the national stadium, the Parken, where Chelsea comfortably beat FC Copenhagen in 2011 with two goals by Anelka. For all Di Matteo's words of caution, anything less would be below par.

Possible teams



Kick-off 7.45pm, Cluj-Napoca (ITV 1)

Referee A U Mallenco (Spain)

Odds: Cluj 5-1 Draw 14-5 Man Utd 4-6

*misses next match through suspension

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy