Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has backed midfielder Frank Lampard to keep playing at the highest level all the way to the 2014 World Cup.
The 34-year-old’s future is clouded in uncertainty, with contradictory reports over whether Chelsea are prepared to offer him a contract to extend his 12-year stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season.
England international Lampard, who again showed his value to the Blues with the third goal in a 4-1 Premier League defeat of Wigan on Saturday, has no shortage of admirers and offers are sure to follow if he does leave Stamford Bridge.
Benitez would not be drawn on Lampard’s Chelsea future, but, asked if the midfielder could feature in Brazil which England is odds on to qualify for according to top bookmakers such as paddypower, the interim Blues boss said: “Yes, I think so. He is a good professional. If he has no injuries he can still play at a good level.”
Lampard, who is 35 in June, has scored nine goals in his last 14 matches for Chelsea to move within four of Bobby Tambling’s club record of 202.
He also netted the decisive strike in England’s 2-1 defeat of Brazil – his 27th international goal in his 94th appearance.
Benitez believes David Luiz, who captained Brazil at Wembley, moving into midfield has given Lampard the opportunity to influence games in attack.
“When he (Lampard) has a holding midfielder, it’s easier for him to go forward,” added Benitez.
“David Luiz can give you balance in the middle. He understands the role.
“He knows Lampard and Ramires are players who like to go forward, so to have a player like Luiz who can stay in the middle is important for him and also for the centre-backs because they are more protected.
“His quality in possession is really good. He’s a player that can see the game and pass the ball with pace. “He can still improve his shooting – but he is doing well.”