Lampard urges Chelsea to retain Cole

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The Independent Online

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has urged the club's hierarchy to do everything within their power to keep Joe Cole at Stamford Bridge.

Contract negotiations with the 28-year-old first began in 2008 but Cole has yet to sign a new deal and could walk away from Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Harry Redknapp would be interested in signing the man he nurtured as a youth at West Ham while Manchester City are another club to be linked with the Londoner.

Chairman Bruce Buck moved to allay fears over Cole's future yesterday by claiming the club were determined to keep the midfielder at Stamford Bridge.

Now Lampard has called on the club to hand Cole a new contract sooner rather than later.

"Joe's a fantastic player and I really hope we keep him, and I think that goes for everyone at the club," said Lampard.

"I don't know Joe's personal position with the club but I'm sure that the club want to keep him and the players want him to stay."

Cole has been used sparingly by manager Carlo Ancelotti since the England midfielder returned from an eight-month layoff in September.

He is also facing a race against time to be picked for England's World Cup squad.

Worryingly for Cole, Capello has not picked the skilful midfielder since his return from injury but Lampard believes Cole's presence in the centre of the park is vital for both club and country.

"He adds something different for us," said Lampard, who won the Football Writers' Association's annual award last night.

"He can create things and beat his man and those type of things don't come along very often.

"Unfortunately he's been out injured for the last year at least really but was player of the year for us just before that."

Lampard starred alongside Cole in Saturday's 7-2 mauling of Sunderland which kept the Blues one point clear of Manchester United at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.

Some had predicted that Chelsea's title hopes would suffer this month due to the loss of top scorer Didier Drogba, who is in Angola for the African Nations Cup.

The Blues have managed to score 12 goals in their last two games though, and Lampard believes Nicolas Anelka, who scored twice against Sunderland, is leading the line well in Drogba's absence.

"I was never one to think that we'd struggle too much because the squad is very strong," said Lampard.

"Nicolas Anelka proved what a top striker he is. Didier Drogba gets a lot of plaudits and rightly so but Anelka has been fantastic for 18 months."

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