Rafael Benitez preparing for questions over the future of Frank Lampard - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Rafael Benitez preparing for questions over the future of Frank Lampard

Chelsea midfielder is out of contract in the summer

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez will face questions over midfielder Frank Lampard's future today with his own very much still to be determined.

The third-placed Blues have three wins from the last 10 matches ahead of tomorrow's Barclays Premier League clash at home to Wigan, who occupy the final place in the relegation zone.

Following Lampard's decisive goal for England in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Brazil, reports emerged suggesting the 34-year-old had been offered new contract to extend his 12-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

Such a move would suggest an about-turn by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who previously had been prepared to allow Lampard to leave at the end of the season.

Chelsea declined to comment when asked about Lampard's contract negotiations, and Benitez is unlikely to do so as well.

The Spaniard is under contract only until the end of the season and could be succeeded by Jose Mourinho, with a return to west London for the Portuguese also mooted this week.

Lampard was a stalwart in Mourinho's successful Chelsea side and is closing in on the club's goalscoring record following his 2001 move from West Ham, despite being a more peripheral figure this term.

Lampard is five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling and has showed his value to Chelsea on a number of occasions this season.

He also proved he still has an international future with England, who beat Brazil for the first time in 23 years.

His 27th international goal on the occasion of his 94th cap prompted England boss Roy Hodgson to state his preference for the midfielder to stay in Europe ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Benitez praised Lampard's contribution for England.

"He's scoring goals for us already and I think he's doing well," Benitez told Chelsea TV.

"Ninety-four caps is a fantastic achievement. If he can get 100 it will be really positive and it will mean he will be fit, he will be playing and he will be doing well."

Left-back Ashley Cole, who won his 100th England cap at Wembley, recently signed a one-year contract extension at Chelsea, while captain John Terry has 18 months to run on his present deal.

Should Lampard stay on, it could provide a morale boost in a difficult period.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, another long-serving Blue, could be doubtful for the Wigan match after a finger injury saw him withdraw from international duty with the Czech Republic.

Demba Ba's fitness status is uncertain after the striker suffered a broken nose against his former club Newcastle last weekend. Ba may be able to feature with a protective face mask.

PA

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