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By ESPN Staff
Apr 25, 2008

Grant: All our thoughts are with grieving Lampard

Frank Lampard's participation in tomorrow's crucial Barclays Premier League showdown with Manchester United remains unresolved with coach Avram Grant insisting the decision would be left to the grieving player.

It is still regarded as highly unlikely that Lampard, whose mother Pat died from pneumonia yesterday, will play against United but Grant confirmed it was a matter for the midfielder.

The England international did not train on Friday and while Grant does not believe he will play, Lampard will have the final say.

'He didn't train today and I can tell you that all our thoughts are with him,' said Grant. 'We are in contact. Frank was very close to his family, so it's not an easy situation.

'He's a professional with full commitment to the team. For the moment, because we have a game tomorrow, we will keep it between me and him. We need to respect him.

'We are a close family here at Chelsea and all our sympathies are with him and his family. We just want to make sure that, when Frank comes back, we will still be fighting.

'I think he will not play tomorrow, but we need to speak with him. In these things, football is very important but there are things that are more important. It's how he feels with this.

'All the players and the staff were very sad because of him. We cannot say more than all our sympathies are with him.'

It is understood that both teams will wear black armbands as a mark of respect for Lampard's loss.

Grant has Michael Essien back tomorrow after being suspended for the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool last Tuesday night. He is a ready made replacement for Lampard should the England star feel he is not ready to play.

Grant's first game in charge last September saw United beat Chelsea at Old Trafford although it was marred by a red card for Mikel John Obi - a decision that still irks the Israeli.

But Chelsea were in turmoil at the time with the shock departure of Jose Mourinho still reverberating through the squad.

Grant and his side have worked wonders ever since and arrive at tomorrow's clash just three points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's men - having taken their unbeaten home league record to an astonishing 80 games.

'We are happy that we're still in the race for the championship,' said Grant. 'We're at home and we want to win. We did what we needed to do in Liverpool. It was a Champions League semi-final away from home at Anfield.

'We did what we needed to do. The game was good for us. United also played away from home on Wednesday, but this game will not be the same.

'They're a proud team and in first place, and they'll come to Stamford Bridge knowing that we're still in the fight.

'But we are a team that's come from fifth to second place, showed a lot of spirit and mounted a good recovery from a sometimes difficult situation.

'It's difficult to beat us and we've shown a lot. The pressure's good. I hope I have weeks like this all my life. It's an exciting week. We've worked hard to come to this situation. We want to enjoy it now.

'The United game was my first in charge and I'd only had one day's training, two or three days in charge after what happened.

'We didn't play badly. We lost to the referee. There were a few strange decisions in that game. I don't like speaking about referees most of the time but, in this case, I remember him.'

Last year the game with United at Stamford Bridge was an anti-climax as United had the title won and Chelsea provided a guard of honour for their reserve team.

Grant and his players remember the occasion but the Chelsea boss says tomorrow is different.

'In any case, they cannot become champions tomorrow,' said Grant.'We don't want them to take the title here. We don't want them to be champions at all. We want to win tomorrow. The players are highly motivated.

'We've played attacking football since day one when I was here. We play with three forwards, sometimes changing it to 4-4-2. We will attack as we always do.'