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What Next For Chelsea's Old Guard?

Friday 16th March 2012
After the drama and excitement of Wednesday night's thrilling Champions League comeback, the debate surrounding the Chelsea trio of John Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard has intensified.

The three ‘old timers' have never been far from the back – or front, in Terry's case - pages this season, with many questioning their futures at the club. Under Andre Villas-Boas, Drogba and Lampard struggled to hold down a regular place, with Terry's upcoming court case and recent knee injury also limiting his time in the starting eleven.

Following the rather imminent sacking of AVB the senior players were widely criticised for orchestrating the fall of the manager, accused of undermining him whilst not delivering the performances to support the team and their struggling boss.

The key trio strongly denied such allegations, and on Thursday morning many of those critics were forced to eat their words as all three all scored in Chelsea's 4-1 victory over Napoli. However, what lies ahead for the contingency that have formed the backbone of the Chelsea side since the days of Jose Mourinho?

For Terry, the debate surrounds his place in the England side rather than his still untouchable spot in the Chelsea backline. At 31, Terry is the youngest of the trio and, whilst his summer trial may spell the end of his international career, he is guaranteed a place in the Chelsea team for at least another season.

Negotiations over a new contract are ongoing between Drogba and Chelsea, with the club's current offer of a one year extension not reaching the demands of a player who wants at least another two years in West London. Whilst having to play second fiddle to £50 million man Fernando Torres for much of the season, Drogba has returned from the African Cup of Nations and given several vital displays, none more so than that against Napoli.

The performance reminded fans of Drogba's unplayable best, with the Ivory Coast man last week becoming the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. With Drogba reiterating his desire to finish his career at Stamford Bridge, a string of similar performances nights may well persuade the club to improve on their current contract offer.

The future of Lampard is the most uncertain. Despite remaining a firm fan favourite and once again leading the club's goalscoring chart, ‘Super Frank' found himself spending more and more time on the bench under Villas-Boas. Like Drogba, Lampard has emphasised his desire to remain at the club and his unrivalled ability to score goals from midfield would not be easily replaced.

For Lampard, and indeed the rest of the club's senior players, their futures will be determined in two ways. A storming finish to the season, like that under previous caretaker boss Guus Hiddink, would be sure to extend the players' time at Chelsea. The other key factor will be the appointment of a new manager in the summer, who will ultimately determine the future of these seasoned warriors.
Tom Webb

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