Rafa heaps praise on Lampard
Rafael Benitez heaped praise on Frank Lampard on Thursday as reports emerged that the midfielder could yet stay at Chelsea.
Following Lampard's decisive goal for England in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Brazil, it was reported the 34-year-old had been offered new contract to extend his 12-year stay at Chelsea.
Such a move would suggest an about-turn by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who previously had been prepared to allow Lampard to leave at the end of the season.
Chelsea declined to comment when asked about Lampard, but Benitez was upbeat when asked about the midfielder's performance against Brazil.
"He's scoring goals for us already and I think he's doing well," Benitez told Chelsea TV.
"Ninety-four caps is a fantastic achievement. If he can get 100 it will be really positive and it will mean he will be fit, he will be playing and he will be doing well."
A 27th international goal on the occasion of his 94th cap showed Lampard still has a future with England, who beat Brazil for the first time in 23 years, and prompted England boss Roy Hodgson to state his preference for the midfielder to stay in Europe ahead of the 2014 World Cup. That could yet be at Stamford Bridge.
Despite the uncertainty over his future, Lampard has performed well this term, scoring 12 times to move five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling.
Should Lampard stay on, it would come as a welcome boost following the contract extension signed by Ashley Cole, who won his 100th England cap against Brazil.
Benitez added: "Ashley Cole - 100 caps is an amazing, a great achievement for anyone, and for a player in the England squad, which is very competitive, so even better."
Lampard said of Cole on Chelsea's website: "It's a fantastic achievement. He's been an unbelievably consistent performer both for club and country, and he started all of those games which makes it all the more incredible.
"The consistency levels he's shown, particularly when you consider Leighton Baines has been around for a while now, have been great.
"For me, he's been one of the best in the world, and to be the first full-back to reach 100 caps is brilliant."
If Lampard does stay on, he could outstay Benitez, who is under contract only until the end of the season.
Lampard, who joined in 2001 from West Ham, could even be reunited with Jose Mourinho, who has been linked with a return to west London from Real Madrid.
Overall Benitez was happy with the midweek international fixtures, reporting no fresh injuries as players returned to Chelsea's Surrey training base.
"The international break normally is a problem, but this one we can consider was positive," Benitez said.
David Luiz, who has struggled with injury in recent weeks, captained Brazil against England, and again Benitez praised the achievement.
"To be the captain of Brazil is a great achievement for David," Benitez said.
"We were thinking maybe he could play less minutes, but he said that he was fine."
Cesar Azpilicueta made his debut for Spain against Uruguay in Qatar, with Juan Mata also featuring, while John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses were part of the Nigeria team which progressed to the African Nations Cup final, meaning their returns to London will be delayed.
The pair will miss Saturday's Premier League clash with Wigan.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, another long-serving Blue, could be doubtful after a finger injury saw him withdraw from international duty with the Czech Republic.
Demba Ba's fitness status is uncertain after the striker suffered a broken nose against his former club Newcastle last weekend. Ba may be able to feature with a protective face mask.