COBHAM (AFP) – Jose Mourinho believes Frank Lampard’s changing role at Chelsea can boost the experienced midfielder’s chances of making an impact at next year’s World Cup finals.
Lampard appeared in both of England’s decisive wins at home to Montenegro on Friday and Poland on Tuesday that secured Roy Hodgson’s side a place at Brazil 2014.
But with the Chelsea midfielder set to turn 36 midway through next year’s tournament, questions will inevitably be raised about Lampard’s ability to exert an influence during the competition.
Chelsea manager Mourinho, though, believes the veteran is adapting his game from the box-to-box midfielder who became the Blues’ all-time leading goalscorer last season, and that the change will benefit his hopes of cementing his place in Hodgson’s plans.
“I don’t think he or anybody can play the same football, the same characteristics of his football, when you are 20 to when you are 35,” Mourinho told a news conference at Chelsea’s training ground on Friday ahead of their Premier League match at home to Cardiff on Saturday.
“You have to play differently, adapt to a new situation, which he is doing very well,” the Portuguese added.
“It’s good for me. In my first period here (as Chelsea manager) we were playing with thremidfielders, and one in front of the defensive line giving the two No.8s the freedom to move forward.
“Now we are playing with two midfielders and a No.10. The two midfielders are more positional. They don’t need to go forward as much because we have four attacking players permanently.
“This is good for his (Lampard’s) new life as a more mature player. He is in a stable moment in his career and can keep this stability for quite a time.
“His game and qualities are very adapted to Chelsea and the national team.
“They also play with two midfielders and one behind a striker, so he’s more of a positional player. It’s easy for him.”
Mourinho this week insisted John Terry was nearing a return to his best but refused to be drawn Friday on whether he felt the former England centre back should reverse his decision last year to quit international football ahead of a Football Association hearing into allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
“That’s something personal,” Mourinho said. “The reasons that pushed him for this were things out of my control.
“If I was a football player, I think I would wait for the national team to say: ‘We don’t need you any more.’
“But that’s just my personal feeling.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea have been lifted by the unexpected return of Fernando Torres from a knee injury ahead of the visit of Cardiff but will be without Ashley Cole and Andre Schurrle, who returned injured from international duty with Germany.
Mourinho praised Torres’s efforts to recover, saying: “The medical department and the player showed very good dedication and work during this period.
“We have now the three strikers available. I want to have problems by having the players to choose — I don’t want players injured. I don’t want an easy selection, I want a difficult selection.
“I have Fernando and Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba, all three ready and we need that,” added Mourinho, whose side are currently two points behind Premier League leaders and London rivals Arsenal.