Frank Lampard wants to end career at Chelsea

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The Independent Football

Frank Lampard has insisted he would never storm off if his game time at Chelsea continued to be limited, despite admitting he was unhappy to be left out of the side by Andre Villas-Boas.

Lampard's future for club and country has been the subject of intense speculation this month, with the midfielder finding himself starting on the bench at Stamford Bridge on top of losing his place in the England side.

Tuesday night saw Blues boss Villas-Boas forced to rubbish erroneous reports Lampard had stormed down the tunnel in Saturday's Barclays Premier League victory against Swansea, a denial that by sheer coincidence came just hours before Carlos Tevez allegedly refused to come off the bench in Manchester City's Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.

With talk of player revolts dominating the sporting agenda, Lampard proved he was a fighter, not a sulker, when he marked his return to the Chelsea side with a superb performance in last night's 1-1 Champions League draw at Valencia.

It looked like being been a matchwinning display, too, until Villas-Boas' decision to replace his fellow 33-year-old with Salomon Kalou for the final seven minutes at the Mestalla backfired spectacularly.

If Lampard's muted reaction to his first goal from open play this season was meant to be a message to his critics - and possibly his manager - his response to his substitution was one of utmost professionalism.

And the man who set a Premier League record of 164 consecutive appearances between 2001 and 2005 was adamant afterwards that attitude would not change, even if he continues to have a reduced role under Villas-Boas.

Lampard told the Evening Standard: "Storm off? Listen, I won't do that.

"I am very fortunate that I have had 10 years at Chelsea where I have been part of a fantastic group and we have been successful. I love the club, I love the fans.

"I feel great support from them for every moment, so the last thing I'd do when the team has played well is sulk or be happy to pick up my wages when I haven't been playing.

"I think it's a good thing to want to play but you have to be professional at the same time. That is what I will always try and do.

"Of course, I still want to end my career at Chelsea and I don't want it to end soon."

Lampard, who took part in a half-hour workout on the Stamford Bridge pitch after being left on the bench against Swansea, added: "When I get a knockback, I want to work hard. I didn't have to train after the game the other day but I wanted to do it because I want to stay fit.

"If I don't do that extra running then maybe I wouldn't have arrived in the box to score the goal against Valencia. It is my mindset and that is why I will always do it, no matter what happens."

Villas-Boas has repeatedly refused to clarify his selection policy regarding Lampard.

But his recall last night is either proof squad rotation is now a part of life at Stamford Bridge or that, at 33, Villas-Boas believes Lampard needs to be held back for the big games.

The latter would be a reflection of Sir Alex Ferguson's approach to the likes of Ryan Giggs, who is still going strong two months from his 38th birthday.

"If I had a crystal ball and could tell you what was the best pattern to keep me playing 'til I'm 40, I would do," said Lampard, who insisted he did not want to be rested, with his four-month injury absence last season reinforcing the fact he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

"My aim is to just keep as fit as I can, and when the manager asks me to play, I will play.

"I know, to be at my best, I need to play consistently because it keeps me at my sharpest and I want to get into a groove.

"When I have done that in previous seasons then I have really started playing regularly and consistently. My consistency is a big part of my game and I hope to keep that for a long time."

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