Terry and Lamps back Grant for resting them

February 20, 2008

Frank Lampard and John Terry insist they were fully behind coach Avram Grant's decision to leave them out of Tuesday night's Champions League draw with Olympiacos in Athens.

Chelsea stumbled to a goalless stalemate in their last 16 clash with the Greek champions and Grant admitted it was their worst performance in Europe since he took over from Jose Mourinho last September.

But Chelsea are now firm favourites to make it through to the quarter-finals of the competition when the two sides meet again at Stamford Bridge in the return leg in a fortnight.

Grant's brave decision paid off and the players insisted they understood the coach's reasons for leaving them out of the starting line-up.

Lampard had only recently returned from a six-week lay-off with a thigh injury and Terry had played just 90 minutes since recovering from a fractured foot.

'I felt fresh but the manager didn't want to take a chance on me and John, and we were in the same boat,' said Lampard.

'We understood the reasons for being substitutes. You have to be mature and professional but it doesn't mean we cannot be frustrated and want to play. The manager would expect that and it is just the way it is.

'It is a long season. I have been out for six weeks and played the other day and there are a lot of important games to come.'

Lampard is one of the fittest players around but he suffers when not playing regularly. He admits he is not a fan of the player rotation policy favoured by the 52-year-old Israeli coach.

And he says it is important that the team becomes settled during the climax of the season - starting with the Carling Cup final against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday.

Grant refused to confirm either player will be in his Wembley starting line-up but it is highly unlikely he will opt to leave them on the bench for the second successive game.

'You would have to ask the manager if it is a fitness thing or rotation but it is very important we get a settled team in the run-in,' said Lampard.

'Any good team I have been involved with has had a pretty settled line-up and it will be down to the manager to find that.

'I want to be in a successful team and any top player wants to play but you have to understand you are in a strong squad.

'I want to play, I feel very fresh and have a lot in my legs. I never normally have injuries and I have missed three months of this season with them. It has been very frustrating and I don't want to miss any more games.

'John and I are going to be fresh anyway and a cup final against Tottenham is always a game that you are going to be very excited about.

'It is something we are looking forward to and we are just happy to be back in the frame. It will be a very difficult game because (Spurs) are in good form and very excited to be in a final.

'They haven't been to Wembley for a long time and they have got a lot of threats going forward but so have we, so it will be interesting.

'It is a trophy we have had a lot of success in before and we know the nice feeling it gives you for the rest of the season.'

Meanwhile, returning striker Didier Drogba admitted Chelsea could have done more against the Greeks and says they will have to improve their game if they are to make it into the next round.

Drogba looked out of sorts against the Greeks in his first game for Chelsea since returning from the African Nations Cup.

Grant now has a fully-fit squad to choose from for the first time since he took charge and the Ivory Coast striker admitted that 'is a big problem for the manager' as he tries to settle on his best side.

Drogba said: 'We had a difficult game and could have done better. The good thing is we have a second game at home and have to improve if we want to beat Olympiacos.

'I am looking forward to playing with Nicolas Anelka but I am just happy to be back and playing with my mates.

'I hope we can do great things but don't forget the other players. We have a big squad and I hope everyone will be committed and give everything for what we want to achieve.'