Lampard: We want to keep Willian, Pedro despite contract uncertainty

Frank Lampard has no qualms about picking Willian or Pedro this weekend despite their contracts expiring just nine days after the away trip to Aston Villa.

Chelsea are currently locked in talks with the pair about temporary extensions to their contracts so they can finish the season in west London.

However, Pedro has reached a pre-contract arrangement with Italian giants Roma, which is leaving doubts about his availability for the upcoming matches.

Willian hasn’t agreed on a move away from Chelsea but he has yet to agree on an extension until the end of the season after his request for a new three-year contract was rejected.

Having seen Ryan Fraser look to leave Bournemouth before the end of the season, Lampard is hoping that his two forwards don’t opt to do the same.

Instead, he hopes that they stay on and help his side qualify for \d Champions League football next season.

“We want them to extend their stay and make sure they can see out the season,” Lampard told reporters via a Zoom conference call. “I see both sides. I see the individual player because I was one, and I respect that they have both been great servants to the club.

“I’ve had nothing but open conversations with them. We’re just trying to make that extension happen. The players have to be happy. We have to be happy. Hopefully, we can get there before the 23rd of June, next week, because that’s the day we have to get it done by.

“Anyone around us knows that. So we will keep talking and hopefully they stay on.”

There are concerns that players negotiating free transfers away from their clubs will be cautious about lining up due to the risk of getting injured in the final weeks of the season ahead of a lucrative move.

Lampard has refuted suggestions that Pedro has told him that he is unwilling to play and he knows he can rely on his two elder statesmen.

“Pedro is certainly available,” he continued. “He actually had a bit of a bang on his ankle last week but he’s fit and wanting to train. He’s going to get some painkillers. It’s one of those impact kind of injuries that hang around a bit but he’s training well.

“So is Willian. I have got absolutely no worries about motivation. They are both top class professionals and have been great servants to the club. They’ve trained really well in this last three-and-a-half week period, which has been a tough physical period for them.

“I’ve got no issues at all with their motivation. Every time they put on a Chelsea shirt, as they have done for years, they will give everything.”

Indeed, their absences could have left Lampard with problems as Callum Hudson-Odoi missed both their pre-restart friendlies due to a minor ankle knock.

It came after the 19-year-old broke the United Kingdom lockdown to meet a woman who accused him of rape, which is a charge that has since been dropped by the Metropolitan Police.

After keeping in contact with Hudson-Odoi throughout the ordeal, Lampard wants his academy graduate to put it behind him and deliver on the pitch.

“I’m very happy that in the eyes of the law it’s been sorted out,” he concluded. “That was my main concern at first. So that’s positive for us. I’m very sympathetic to the idea that we’re not angels or saints and we make mistakes, particularly at a young age.

“I will never be one to come down too harshly, albeit we have had conversations, myself and Callum. The big conversations with Callum now is to make sure he learns his lesson from what happened. He broke lockdown and that wasn’t good enough.

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“He has admitted that and we move on. The next thing is to train consistently at a really high level to work hard in training every day. He came back from lockdown and got injured early in this period so now he has to work hard to get fit again.

“As much as the pitfalls off the pitch I want to see how he can work on the training pitch and get into this team, and perform to levels we all believe he can. It doesn’t come easy. That’s the big thing I say to Callum a lot and something he really has to take on board now.”

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