Rafael Benitez has responded to Petr Cech's suggestion that Frank Lampard may yet have a future at Chelsea by indicting he will still leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
The Blues have refused to extend Lampard's contract, which expires in May, despite his strong form which has seen him eclipse Kerry Dixon to become the club's second highest scorer with 194 goals.
Cech declared after Sunday's 4-0 victory at Stoke that he believes there could yet be a twist in the saga, but Benitez signalled once more that there would be no reprieve. "We know Frank is doing well in training and is playing well. Everyone can see he is doing well and the rest of the team is doing well at the same time," he said.
"Maybe that was what Petr was trying to say - Frank can play at a good level and hopefully he can continue until the end of the season. I have to bring the best out of him and I'd be delighted if he scores 15 goals from now until the end of the season. I have to keep him fit."
The 34-year-old is only eight short of Bobby Tambling's record, a milestone he is on course to surpass at his current rate, and Chelsea's insistence on his departure has baffled fans and observers.
Benitez accepts that scoring opportunities for any Chelsea player will be at a premium on Wednesday night when Southampton visit Stamford Bridge. The Blues have struck 17 times in their last five away matches, but have lost twice - against QPR and Swansea - and failed to score on both occasions in their two most recent home games.
Benitez admits they must find a way to break down opposition who arrive in west London with limited attacking ambition.
"We are doing well away but at home other teams play deep and wait and there's less space," he said. "We are still creating chances but the main thing is to be more clinical. If we take our chances it will be totally different because the teams we play will be more open and we will have the space we're looking for.
"But if that's not the case, as in the last two games, it is more difficult. When you play away there is more space, the players we have can make a big difference. If you have 11 players behind the ball you have to find the space and be more precise.
"We have confidence that we can do well. We scored many goals against Aston Villa and Nordsjaelland. The last two games were more difficult because they had 11 players behind the ball and we have to find a way to overcome that."