Lampard keen to play role of father figure

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The Independent Football

The separation is proving tough for Lampard, who wants to give his all to Jose Mourinho's side but at the same time be there for Rives should anything happen. It didn't affect his performance in Chelsea's first match against Milan on Sunday as he was as assured as ever, but he can't help but worry what is happening elsewhere.

He said: "Elen is a month away from giving birth. The phone is always on if she wants to ring but things are OK. I am pretty nervous being this far away, but Elen is a strong girl so I am pretty comfortable. I would be worse if it was a bit closer and we were this far away in America.

"We only have another week to go on this trip so hopefully she can hold tight. We have a caesarian booked which is not on a match day which we have planned. It makes the start of the season even more exciting with a baby coming."

Lampard has already shown he can be an inspirational figure on the field having finished top scorer for Chelsea last season with 19 goals and was named the Football Writers' Player of the Year. The England international admits he is already prepared to transfer his leadership abilities on the field to his parenting skills.

He added: "It is all becoming real to me now. We are almost there. I am really ready for the changes. I have been ready for a while. We have both wanted a baby for a little time now so it is brilliant. My life is pretty relaxed and I get a lot of afternoons to myself so it is the right time."

The Chelsea players have been able to see Lampard the father figure in action on the tour as he is working hard to make sure the team spirit which was so prominent in the squad last season includes the new arrivals like Asier del Horno and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Manchester United may be having problems but Lampard reveals all is well in the Chelsea camp. He said: "The new guys have settled in quickly, even Asier del Horno, who does not really speak English, is fitting in well with those that can speak a bit of Spanish and the English lads. We put a big emphasis on that. We did it last year and we are trying to do it again.

"Everybody is hungry and wants to play, and coming back with a couple of new signings is important. Everybody is fit, which is good, and it means there is competition for places.

"The attitude has been great in training and in the games. We all know what we are doing with the manager which makes things a bit easier. We are used to things tactically."

l The Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck revealed yesterday that he met the Manchester United director Joel Glazer in London recently and discussed issues affecting the two clubs.

Buck said: "We talked about areas that might be of common interest to both clubs, exchanged views and offered to answer any questions they might have. During the meeting Chelsea reaffirmed our backing for the Premier League's collective television deal."

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