Lampard set to miss Sparta clash
Frank Lampard will have to wait to score his 200th goal for Chelsea as interim manager Rafael Benitez has chosen to rest the midfielder for Thursday's Europa League tie against Sparta Prague.
Lampard's Stamford Bridge future may be in doubt but the 34-year-old's goal scoring prowess is not, having fired five goals in his last six games for the Blues. That run has seen Lampard move just three goals shy of Bobby Tambling's all-time record of 202 for Chelsea - a target Benitez fully expects Lampard to pass before his contract runs out at the end of the season.
Benitez plans to rest him for the last-32 tie with Sparta, for which the west Londoners boast a one-goal lead from last week's first leg, but - with Sunday's trip to second-place Manchester City clearly in mind - the Blues boss said: "Lampard will not be in the squad tomorrow because we have to manage it a little bit."
Benitez added: "If he can score a lot of goals it will be fantastic for him and will be fantastic for us.
"Everybody knows that he is close. I am sure they will try to help if they have a chance. If we have a penalty, he can take it and things like this.
"But the main thing is he's doing well, scoring goals. We have more competition now and that's good for me. It's a problem, but a good one because we have too many games, so to have many players available is good."
Lampard has impressed Benitez since his November arrival, scoring a goal in almost every other game under the interim boss. His importance to the side is clear and similar to the role played by Steven Gerrard during the Spaniard's time at the Liverpool helm.
"In terms of liking to score goals and their timing getting into the box is really good, that's their similarity," Benitez said. "Both are offensive midfielders who can score every game.
"They can take penalties, free-kicks and can still score in open play. They are two great players.
"It's important to have these kind of players, they are good professionals, who train properly and stay fit. He's doing that so I have to manage him."