Tuesday 21 November 2017

Di Matteo willing to carry on with the old reliables

Jeremy Wilson

Roberto Di Matteo has stressed that Frank Lampard and John Terry will form the core of his squad again, with the new Chelsea manager clearly indicating he thinks Lampard is worth a new contract.

Lampard re-established himself as a regular in the team at the end of last season under Di Matteo but is now into the final year of his contract and would be free to talk to other clubs in January. Di Matteo helped Lampard adapt to a deeper-lying midfield role behind Juan Mata as Chelsea unexpectedly won the Champions League and believes that, even at 34, Lampard has many good years ahead of him.

"Frank is a very fit man," said Di Matteo. "As long as he doesn't get injured he can play for many years. He's been very influential towards the end of the season.

"At a certain age of course he will need a longer recovery time. I don't see any problems with him going on. The club will make the decision with Frank but certainly he'll be here next season."

Terry is due in court next week for his trial into the allegation, which he denies, that he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a match.

"He's our skipper, our captain, our leader," said Di Matteo. "I expect him to be the same next season. If you don't have any major injuries you can go on as long as you are mentally and physically driven."

Di Matteo's faith in Lampard and Terry reflects his desire to maintain the same pragmatic approach that brought such success to Chelsea after the more radical changes that were attempted by Andre Villas-Boas. One major difference will be in attack, however, following the departures of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, who completed a free transfer to Lille yesterday.

Kalou, 26, will replace Joe Cole, who has returned to Liverpool after a spell on loan at Lille last season. "From what I've discovered at Lille, it has nothing to envy the greatest outfits in Europe," he said.

The obvious internal replacement for Drogba at Chelsea is Fernando Torres, who spoke out about his frustrations at Chelsea even after winning the Champions League. Chelsea are still hoping to agree a deal for Porto's Hulk, while Di Matteo has made it clear that he expects Romelu Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge to challenge for a place.

"I was always very happy with Fernando. The trophies he won with us and Spain should give him a lot of confidence," said Di Matteo.

"I spoke to him the morning after the Champions League final. It was a feeling he had at the time and we've continued to speak. There are no concerns about Fernando."

QPR, meanwhile, hope to unveil plans for a new stadium before the start of the new season. They are considering three sites in West London and will explore the option of having a retractable roof to also make it a viable concert venue. QPR are also expected to unveil the signing of Manchester United's Park Ji-sung tomorrow.


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