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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
By ESPN Staff

Lampard: Chelsea veterans will keep getting better

Frank Lampard has hit back at critics who claim Chelsea's squad is past it - and declared there is more to come from the Premier League champions.

Carlo Ancelotti's side have started the new campaign the way they finished the last one with three successive victories, including 6-0 routs of both West Brom and Wigan, while they are yet to concede a goal.

Much has been made of the age of the Blues' senior men, like Lampard, 32, captain John Terry, 29, and striker Didier Drogba, who will be 33 in March.

However, England midfielder Lampard - who is currently sidelined by a hernia problem which forced him out of Friday's opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria at Wembley - rejects any suggestions the Chelsea players are over the hill.

"It is a load of rubbish when I hear talk about there only being one or two years left in our spine," Lampard told Chelsea's official magazine. "This has been going on for a year or so.

"Sometimes that is mind games from other managers or press talk and we proved them wrong last year.

"We have got players here who are experienced and you can't buy experience in football - look at Didier, he is a specimen and he will overpower any 24- or 25-year-old.

"People have been waxing lyrical about Paul Scholes, and rightly so, because if you take him out of the United team now, they will want to replace him and they probably won't be able to.''

Lampard may have a trophy cabinet full of honours, but the former West Ham trainee maintains his hunger for more success.

"Every year I set my goals again, I don't lose any ambition or drive,'' Lampard said. "I would love to win the Champions League one day, but I would love to win more Premier League titles as well, so it's quite easy to self-motivate.

"I think also that, the older you get, the more you appreciate what you have got as a footballer. I think it's one of my strong points that I always want to do more because you don't play forever. If I can keep my level up to the way I am playing now I believe I can go on playing for many more years.''

With 14 goals from the opening three Premier League matches, things are certainly going to plan for Chelsea, who saw experienced midfielders Joe Cole and Michael Ballack leave on free transfers during the summer.

"I think our game feels more natural now - you can see that from the way we finished last season and started this one,'' Lampard said.

"Don't get me wrong, we had difficult moments last season when it wasn't flowing, but it became more natural to us and after winning the Double and celebrating that, I think we came back here in the summer wanting to step up again to another level.''

Lampard paid tribute to Ancelotti, who delivered the club an historic Double in his first season.

"The manager is very involved - his method, his training, his personality and his calmness is something the players have related to more and more over the last year or so and that's making us stronger as a unit."


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