London: Chelsea heroes John Terry and Frank Lampard are facing Europa League final heartbreak, with Rafa Benitez refusing to guarantee the pair a starting place in Amsterdam next week.
The veterans have been central to the Blues’ success during Roman Abramovich’s reign at the club, but the pair have played peripheral roles under Benitez.
And they are set for places on the bench against Benfica on Wednesday night as Chelsea look to secure their second successive European trophy.
With Lampard and Terry expected to play against Aston Villa tomorrow, the signs are ominous given Benitez’s rotation policy.
Terry’s potential omission next week will be particularly hard to swallow for the club captain after he missed last year’s glorious Champions League final triumph against Bayern Munich through suspension.
But, yesterday, when asked directly whether sentiment would play a part in his selection process ahead of the game in Holland, Benitez replied: ‘What I can say is that Lampard will play against Aston Villa.
“I cannot say anything about the final. We have to play another game and, after, we will decide the team for the final. That’s it.
“The only player I can guarantee will be picked is Lampard against Villa. After, we will see about the final.”
Meanwhile, Lampard has admitted he wants to stay at Stamford Bridge, particularly if Jose Mourinho returns.
The midfielder’s future is shrouded in uncertainty with his contract due to expire next month.
Lampard has a firm offer from LA Galaxy on the table, but discussions over a possible contract extension at Chelsea are under way.
With Mourinho expected to return to the club next season, Lampard admits the prospect of working with the Special One again is hugely exciting.
“I think Mourinho returning would be a great thing for the club,” said Lampard.
“He is certainly one of the greatest, if not the greatest, managers in world football. I’ve always said that I wanted to spend all of my career here so I think everyone knows that.
“I think him and Sir Alex Ferguson for longevity are the best managers. What he has done for so many years, I love him.
“Man United are a competitive club against us but when I look at Sir Alex Ferguson as an individual and what he has done, he’s an absolute god of football.”