Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes there could be a twist to come in the saga of whether Frank Lampard stays at the club beyond the summer.
It has appeared the long-serving midfielder is on his way out of the club he joined from West Ham in the summer of 2001, with Chelsea unwilling to offer him a new contract. Lampard has been heavily linked with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Cech thinks he will have a case to ask for an extension to his expiring deal if he gives performances such as the one that helped Chelsea to a 4-0 win at Stoke on Saturday.
Cech said: "There are still six months to go until the end of the season so we will see whether he stays or not. I'm not a director but if he keeps playing like that, he will keep asking about the extension." If Lampard does leave Chelsea in the summer, it is increasingly possible he will do so as the club's all-time leading goalscorer. The England midfielder, who turns 35 in June, increased his tally to 194 with a penalty against Stoke, moving him clear of Kerry Dixon in second place and only eight behind record holder Bobby Tambling.
Cech said: "The team has changed, his age has changed, but he's still important for the team. He might not start every game or play every game but when he plays he plays well with his quality and experience, so this is something that is great to see. "I've known him for a long time and he's been a fantastic player for the club, and he continues to be so."
Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez appears to have no say in the decision, and again on Saturday he insisted the uncertainty is not causing a problem.
"I have talked about this 100 times now," Benitez said.
"He's under contract, he's a good player. He has to keep performing and he's fine. I think it's not an issue at the moment."
Saturday's win lifted Chelsea back above Tottenham into third place and they will play their game in hand on top-two Manchester United and Manchester City against Southampton on Wednesday before a home clash with Arsenal next weekend.
Cech said: "We knew if we won our game then at least we would have a chance to close the gap. You never know what can happen.
"Then we have a game in hand, and obviously you target another three points. We have a big game against Arsenal coming up as well and if we had three wins then the table would look different for us again."