Lampard praises Giroud but ‘can’t give assurances’

Frank Lampard says he is unable to give Olivier Giroud any assurances he will be a first-player if he stays at Chelsea.

There continues to be speculation over the future of the French striker, whose contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the season.

Inter Milan, managed by former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, are among the Italian clubs to have been linked with Giroud ahead of the January transfer window.

Giroud, 34, has not started a Premier League game this season, but has six goals in a total of 10 appearances, eight of which have come as a substitute.

He scored four goals against Sevilla in the Champions League this week, leaving Blues boss Lampard with a decision to make over whether to stick with him against Leeds on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Lampard said: “I don’t think it’s a case of giving anyone assurances of game time.

“With as competitive a squad as we have, it is very difficult to do.

“All you want is for players, when they are out of the team, to train well, get themselves in the team and perform like he did the other day.

“Of course that gives me nice problems. Oli has always done that for me here.

“At the back end of last season he played as regularly as he has played at Chelsea in my time at the club. In the restart he was fundamental in us getting to the Champions League spots.

“I am happy with him. He has given me a really nice problem; his form is good, he is training well and I am obviously not going to give my team selection away today.”

Reports have suggested that Giroud would like to stay at Chelsea – but only if he feels he will get regular game time ahead of next summer’s European Championships.

Asked whether he would be able to keep Giroud happy, Lampard replied: “I can’t answer that for Oli.

“In that forward area I have competition for places. Tammy Abraham has been playing very well for us this season and been scoring goals and making assists.

“Tammy brings attributes. Olivier, as we saw the other night, bring his attributes. That’s great competition for me.

“I can’t give assurances and you’d have to ask Oli. But I never see anything negative from Oli and I’ve got huge respect for him.

“And, playing like the way he did the other night, clearly he’s going to get opportunities because that was a top-class performance all round.”

Billy Gilmour, fit again after a knee injury, also faces stiff competition for a place.

The young midfielder came on as a substitute against Sevilla but his chances of Premier League action currently look slim.

Reports in Italy have claimed that Juventus and Napoli are both interested in Gilmour, who has impressed during his first-team outings for Chelsea.

Lampard said: “We are competitive in midfield. We don’t have injuries at the moment so the numbers mean that some players miss out on squads – some do tomorrow.

“Billy’s quality will shine through but there is competition in that area, so we’ll have to see.”