FRANK Lampard has admitted he was not happy at being left out of the Chelsea side, insisting he needs a run of games to maintain his form.
Lampard almost enjoyed a dream return to the starting XI last night, when his goal had the Blues on their way to what looked set to be another Champions League victory in Valencia.
The midfielder's performance appeared to vindicate manager Andre Villas-Boas' decision to rotate him in and out of the team, something Lampard declared he was prepared to accept because of his love for the club.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw at the Mestalla, he said: "I don't want to just pick my money up and sit on my backside on the bench.
"But you have to respect the manager and respect the team and the quality and the squad that we have.
"It's a big squad and the manager has to do what he sees fit. If he wants to bring young players through at times then I have to go on with that.
"Fortunately enough, I'm at a club that I love and I've got a great history here.
"I want to continue that story on for a good few years, not just now, not just the next few months."
Lampard has previously acknowledged he is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning but he insisted that made him even more determined to play as many matches as possible.
"I've probably been like that for a while," he said.
"I'm a player, I think, who likes to play regularly because I think it helps me get my momentum and stay fit and get confident.
"Hopefully, now, I can get a run of games. It's down to the manager."
Speculation about Lampard's future dominated the build-up to last night's match, with Villas-Boas declaring he was fed up with answering questions about his fellow 33-year-old.
After starting three of the last four games on the bench - in addition to losing his place in the England side earlier this month - Lampard seemed destined to score last night.
But he said: "Nothing's in the script - you have to work for it.
"I've missed out on a few games lately and you have to keep on top of yourself, work hard and, when you get your chance, you have to show.
"That's what I tried to do."
Ironically, it was Villas-Boas' decision to substitute Lampard yesterday which ended up backfiring, with replacement Salomon Kalou immediately conceding a needless penalty which was scored by Roberto Soldado.
Chelsea also wasted several chances to kill the contest but still lie top of Group E on four points with Valencia in third place on two.
The Spaniards' manager, Unai Emery, said: "You can look at it from two different points of view.
"We haven't lost any games but we haven't won any games either.
"The games against Bayer Leverkusen away and at home, we need to work really hard to be better than them. Those two games will be fundamental in deciding who's going to go through to the next round."