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The idea of Frank Lampard lining up against Chelsea next season wearing enemy colours is not something John Terry is willing to tolerate.
The Blues brothers have been central pillars of the club’s most successful era as Lampard has moved within three goals of Bobby Tambling’s all-time individual scoring record.
Fans have made it clear to owner Roman Abramovich that they want the midfielder to stay beyond his current contract, which expires in June.
‘Roman, sign him up,’ they sang on Sunday and Terry admits it would be difficult to see Lampard leave Stamford Bridge, at the age of 35, when he has more to offer.
‘I’m not even going to entertain that,’ said Terry. ‘I don’t even want to think about it. He has so much more to give. We all hope that’s here but, if not, he has certainly got years ahead of him.
‘Still, at his age, he is the best trainer by a million miles. He works so hard. To get that many goals kids might think, “He’s just in the right position”, but believe me, it is down to a lot of hard work before and after training, working on strengths and weaknesses.
‘He has just been an inspiration for everyone since he arrived.’
Lampard’s contract situation has been one issue fuelling unrest among Chelsea fans. Terry’s future is also unclear. He has less than 18 months remaining on his contract, and for the first time his place is under serious threat from Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.
But it is the decision to employ unpopular ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez which underpins the mood of dissent which erupts whenever things go awry. ‘They pay their money so they are entitled to echo their thoughts,’ said Terry. ‘The most important thing is the team winning games. People speak about things but it’s not about Rafa, it’s not about me, it’s not about Lamps, it’s not about anybody.
‘It’s about this football club winning games and if we’re doing that the fans are happy. That’s all they want to see. If that’s with me in the side, great; if not, then I will be their biggest supporter and I’ll sit there and support the team like the fans will.
‘If you are losing games, the pressure is on the manager. If you’re winning games, that gets taken away. Hopefully, as a group of players we can do that and it takes the pressure off him.’
Chelsea have stumbled at times under Benitez, suffering a painful home defeat by QPR last month and losing to Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi-finals.
But they have won their last three and can move within a point of second-placed Manchester City if they win at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
‘It’s a little bit disappointing that we have let Manchester United get so many points ahead,’ said Terry. ‘We’ve not had the best of seasons but we can still easily get second.
‘We have everybody fit and if we can go on a run we’re capable of, we have a real chance.
‘We’ve had a great record in the FA Cup and long may that continue. Europa League, top four — who knows? Top four is a must for this football club. Top two would be great, obviously. Every competition we are in, we are in it to win and we have certainly got the squad to do that. Every year at this football club we need trophies, whatever that may be.’
As for his own position, the Chelsea captain is determined to fight for his future at Stamford Bridge. His appearances have been limited by suspension and injury this season and Benitez has been impressed by the central defensive partnership of Ivanovic and Cahill.
‘The most frustrating thing for me was that when Rafa came in, I wasn’t fit and wasn’t able to impress him and show what I am about. I have a bit of catching up to do. He has not seen the full me and me at 100 per cent.
‘I still need a couple of games — that is clear, as well. I’m not silly. I’ve been out for four months and the other two guys, Iva and Gaz, have been playing really well, both scoring as well, so it’s going to be difficult for me to get back in.
‘People speak about me being upset. Naturally I want to play games, but I’m not one to knock the manager’s door down.
‘I respect the other players. I have to fight for my place again. That’s the same with everyone in the team and I am no different.’ – Daily Mail