Frank Lampard to lead Chelsea against Benfica tonight
Injured John Terry ruled out of Europa League final in Amsterdam
Frank Lampard of Chelsea during a Chelsea training session ahead of the Uefa Europa League final against Benfica at the Amsterdam ArenA. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Frank Lampard will captain Chelsea in the Europa League final on Wednesday night but John Terry, who has been ruled out of the game with an ankle injury, is expected to join him on the podium to lift the trophy should the London club defeat Benfica.
Terry, who damaged his left ankle in Saturday’s victory at Aston Villa and arrived in the Netherlands with a pronounced limp and with the joint heavily strapped, made a bold attempt to prove he should warrant a place, at least on the bench, by venturing out on to the turf as the squad trained at the Amsterdam ArenA last night. But the centre-half, wearing trainers rather than boots, managed only one lap of the pitch with the fitness coach before retiring inside for further treatment.
Eden Hazard, who injured a hamstring at Villa Park, will also miss the game, as will Ryan Bertrand. That leaves the interim manager Rafael Benítez effectively left to select from a threadbare 18-man squad that includes Victor Moses, who picked up a slight knock at the weekend. Lampard will start and, as Terry’s deputy, will take on the armband against the Portuguese having performed a similar duty in last year’s Champions League showpiece.
The veteran is finally expected to sign a new one-year contract to extend his stay at the club into a 13th season in the coming days, with the possibility that confirmation of a deal will be announced ahead of the final game of the domestic season this weekend.
Lampard has expressed his pride at his long association with this club, even if the days of being offered longer-term deals are long gone, and offered his sympathies to Terry. The centre-back had missed last season’s Champions League final through suspension, having been red-carded for kicking Barcelona’s Alexis Sánchez in the semi-final at the Camp Nou, but was permitted to lift the trophy with the midfielder in the post-match ceremony on the pitch.
Terry described the Europa League as his “lifeline” last month, having found opportunities limited in domestic competition, and has featured in six of the side’s eight games en route to the final. “It’s very unfortunate,” said Lampard, who hopes to be included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for next month’s friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil. “But when we have been here a long time, trying to win cups and leagues, I don’t think it matters too much if you are winning them as an individual or not because you’ve been involved in the process. That would be the same this time if we win. It was the same last year with John and anyone who is suspended or injured: you win it together and, as captain of the club John will be right up there.”
Chelsea are seeking to become the first club to follow up Champions League success with a Europa League triumph 12 months later. While their two European finals over the Roman Abramovich era have each culminated in a penalty shoot-out, Lampard revealed the squad had not practised spot-kicks in the buildup to the confrontation with Benfica. “We haven’t as yet,” he said. “We did before etter not. A year ago we did practise them and did a little circular thing – I think it was ahead of Swansea [in the Capital One Cup semi-finals], and it’s a strange one. I’ve practised them with England many times at tournaments and we’ve ended up going out. There’s no perfect recipe.”