Rafael Benitez has promised that Frank Lampard will break the Chelsea goal-scoring record this season, but he will not give him the chance to score his 200th tomorrow night.
Lampard has scored 199 Chelsea goals, and he has an excellent chance of breaking Bobby Tambling's record of 202 before his possible departure this summer. There will be no progress tonight, though, with Lampard rested for Chelsea's Europa League last-32 second leg at home against Sparta Prague, in which they already have a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
Chelsea have been awash with midweek fixtures for months and interim manager Benitez has left Lampard out of tonight's squad, along with Demba Ba and Branislav Ivanovic.
"We had a problem," Benitez explained. "Ramires and Frank have been playing too many games. It's different in a normal team playing once a week. Here, the last five games could be in three weeks. Six games in three weeks is too much for anyone, even Ramires and Frank."
On Sunday, Chelsea travel to Manchester City, and victory would move them within one point of the Premier League champions. "The manager has to keep an eye on everything if he can," Benitez said. "We are thinking a bit about that, but the priority will be this game [tomorrow night]."
Despite Lampard's absence this evening, there are still 12 Premier League games left as well as likely Europa League and FA Cup ties for him and Benitez was certain that he would break Tambling's record.
"I can see how he trains and what he's doing," said Benitez. "I can see him scoring more goals. He'll score more than four or five before now and the end of the season.
"If he can score a lot of goals it will be fantastic for him and for us. Everyone knows he's close. They will try to help if we have a chance. If we have a penalty, he can take it. He's doing well, scoring goals."
Gary Cahill said that Chelsea players were very keen for Lampard to break the record: "Everyone's aware of it, for definite, and willing him on. I feel he can do it, and in the form he's in at the minute you wouldn't bet against him."
"He's phenomenal, works hard on his game, is in great form at the minute banging goals in for club and country."Reuse content