• Premier League

Benitez happy with focused Lampard

ESPN staff
January 8, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has praised Frank Lampard for his attitude during the final year of his contract, but would not say whether or not the midfielder warranted a new deal to keep him at the club beyond the summer.

Lampard's Chelsea future remains uncertain with his agent insisting that the club have not opened talks about a contract extension.

The 34-year-old has responded by hitting a rich vein of form, moving alongside Kerry Dixon as Chelsea's second all-time leading scorer on 193 goals - nine behind club top scorer Bobby Tambling - when he scored from the spot against Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Fans have started chanting 'sign him up' in an effort to convince the decision-makers to hang onto the midfielder, who joined the club in 2001, but Benitez refused to be drawn as to whether he has urged Roman Abramovich to keep him at the club.

"He's playing well, working very hard and we're trying to bring the best from him - my position is exactly the same," Benitez said. "If he can carry on scoring goals I will be really pleased, and if he can carry on scoring goals and winning games I will be even happier.

"As professionals we know that we have to focus on our job. I will support Frank, and then he's really focused and we try to carry on performing on the pitch. That is the only way for us."

Benitez was similarly tight-lipped on the rumours suggesting that Manchester United may move to pick up Lampard on a free transfer in the summer, and would not discuss the club's plans for the January transfer window.

"It's too early to talk about teams and the future. Frank is under contract, he is a player for us," Benitez added. "I am really pleased with my squad, with my players, they are doing well and hopefully we can improve them."

Chelsea are expected to complete the signing of midfielder Taison from Metalist Kharkiv in the coming weeks, but the Spaniard was determined to give nothing away.

"I will not talk about the market. I know that it's normal, a lot of names in the press, but we do our business between us and if we have to do something we will do it.

"At the moment I have to respect my players, I trust them, they are doing well, and we'll carry on with our players."

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