Bench role upsets Lampard
Published 22/02/2012 | 05:00
Frank Lampard is believed to have had a row with Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas after being told he was not starting last night's crucial Champions League tie away to Napoli.
The 33-year-old midfielder was informed by Villas-Boas that he would be among the substitutes for the match, even though he didn't start last weekend's FA Cup tie at home to Birmingham City either.
Lampard expressed his unhappiness at being excluded, especially as it had been assumed that he would be selected having missed out on Saturday.
He took his place among the subs alongside Ashley Cole, who was also surprisingly left out, although he was not fully fit.
There has been tension this season between Lampard and Chelsea's manager who has been given a remit to refresh the team and reduce its average age.
Even though he has one more year left on his contract and has expressed a desire to see out his career at Chelsea, it is understood that the England international might leave this summer if Vilas-Boas stays and carries out the planned changes to the squad.
Lampard has failed to start a number of Chelsea's biggest games this season, but is the team's joint leading scorer.
However, he has grown increasingly frustrated at his marginalised role especially for a team that has struggled for form this season.
Villas-Boas will regard Lampard's exclusion as part of his rotation policy, partly because of the player's age, but it is increasingly apparent that the player is no longer regarded as first-choice for the manager and may have to decide this summer whether he stays at Chelsea.
It's understood that Lampard also feels that Villas-Boas has not properly explained to him why he has been dropped quite so frequently, although the manager will argue that he is utilising his squad and also needs to take into account the player's age and form.
Villas-Boas is also trying to evolve Chelsea's style of play and wants a more mobile midfield and it would appear that Lampard does not feature in his long-term plans, even though he has asked for a contract extension. (© Daily Telegraph, London)