Rafa Benitez has confirmed Frank Lampard will start against Aston Villa on Saturday as he continues his quest to become Chelsea’s all-time top scorer.
Lampard needs two more goals to break the record held by Blues legend Bobby Tambling but, with just three matches left this season and a new contract unlikely, time is running out.
Benitez left the 34-year-old on the bench during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham, but confirmed he will start at Villa Park as Chelsea look for the win that would secure a top-four finish.
“Frank is a great player and a great professional,” Benitez told reporters.
“I’m really pleased with him. He’s training every day, so his fitness is good, and if he can score two goals against Aston Villa [to break the record] it will be easier for me.”
The Spaniard, however, admitted the needs of Chelsea must come before Lampard’s personal ambitions. “My job is to win games,” he insisted. “If I can help Frank break the record and do that, it will be great.”
Another Chelsea veteran on the sharp end of Benitez’s selection decisions is John Terry. The Blues captain has sat out the club’s last three matches.
Terry missed last season’s Champions League final through suspension, but Benitez refused to be drawn on whether his skipper would feature in the club’s second European final in as many years.
“The competition in his position is very hard,” the Spaniard added. “We have David Luiz, Cahill and Ivanovic and they are doing well too, so now we have four centre-backs who have to compete.
“I can say Lampard will play against Aston Villa, but I can’t say anything about the final. We’ll play the game on Saturday and then decide. I haven’t chosen my team.”
Benitez did, however, reveal he would be consulting former Benfica duo David Luiz and Ramires in a bid to get the inside track on the Portuguese giants ahead of the Amsterdam showdown.
“I know Benfica have a good manager who works hard, and they have a good team with good players, like Aimar [who Benitez managed at Valencia],” he continued.
“I have some ideas about them, but I will talk with Ramires and David Luiz and they will give me more information.
“They know Portuguese football, they know the players and they know the team. It will be important for me. We have an idea [of Benfica] but they will give me more.”