Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas yesterday claimed he and Frank Lampard enjoy a "fantastic" relationship and dismissed any suggestion otherwise.
Villas-Boas' handling of Lampard has been one of the biggest talking points of his reign, with the Blues boss having no qualms dropping a player who was previously untouchable at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard has refused to bite his tongue over his unhappiness at being in and out of the side, while there have been increasing numbers of reports claiming all is not well between the midfielder and his manager.
The latest saw Villas-Boas accused of blanking Lampard on the team bus following the midfielder's failure to join in a goal celebration with the Chelsea boss during last week's Barclays Premier League win at Wolves.
Villas-Boas today dismissed all the reports of discord, describing his relationship with his vice-captain as "fantastic" and adding: "We speak every day."
He also rejected any suggestion Lampard could be sold this month.
"Frank is a player who is not available at any price," Villas-Boas said, before justifying his handling of the 33-year-old.
"First, he's not in and out in rotation. There is no such thing.
"We decide on an XI who are strong for any game and that can help us in the strategy to win the game.
"Every player wants to find that consistency and playing times.
"Frank, with the player he is and the history he represents, wants to be involved all the time, but every player is competing for a place.
"I've said the same all season, even when Frank had more playing time and others didn't.
"Everyone is fighting to be in it, and a player of Frank's level has a shorter distance to travel to be in the team than others."
Lampard has been dropped for all of Chelsea's big games recently but Villas-Boas insisted this did not mean his powers were on the wane.
"Players have different characteristics and your strategy depends on how you want to play the game," he said.
"Other players might be better placed in certain games, or players might be in better form than others.
"We try different options at times, but Frank is the fifth or sixth most used player at Chelsea so he's involved all the time.
"We are speaking of two players ahead of him. One is a goalkeeper and the other is John Terry."
- More about:
- Chelsea F.c.
- David Jones (Footballer)
- Frank Lampard
- Premier League
- Wolverhampton Wanderers