Premier League

Roberto Di Matteo insists Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard still has a future at the club

Lamps still a key figure

Frank Lampard; Left out in recent games but still a key player, according to Roberto Di Matteo

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Roberto Di Matteo has attempted to quash fresh speculation about Frank Lampard by insisting he remains a vital player for Chelsea.

Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Arsenal was the third successive match in which Lampard was not in the European champions' XI, with Ramires selected alongside John Obi Mikel in central midfield.

Lampard was injured for Tuesday's Carling Cup thrashing of Wolves, but his omission at the Emirates Stadium suggested the 34-year-old could start fewer big games during the final year of his current contract.

However, Di Matteo said: "His future is very strong at this club. He's a very important player for us.

"I've had conversations with him, yeah, which I do on a regular basis with the players. I like to exchange opinions.

"He's very supportive of the team when he's not in the team. When he's in the team, he's a great performer as well.

"From that point of view, we're fortunate to have a very strong squad with international players, so that's going forward with a busy schedule, it's important we use these players."

Despite Saturday's admission, Di Matteo insisted Lampard could adapt from a box-to-box goalscoring midfielder to an anchorman.

He added: "He's been playing that role, but I don't think I've ever taken those other things away from him. Those are his strengths, but you sometimes need discipline in that role. It's important for the balance of the team.

"But he's played there magnificently at the beginning of this season and last season as well."