Lampard hopes 'important' Giroud will remain at Chelsea

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Chelsea - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - November 21, 2020 Chelsea's Olivier Giroud during the warm up before the match Pool via REUTERS/Lindsey Parnaby

(Reuters) - Chelsea are hopeful that striker Olivier Giroud will continue his career at the Premier League club but will not stand in the way of the French international if he chooses to leave, manager Frank Lampard said on Monday.

Giroud has made four league appearances as a substitute this season with Lampard favouring Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham, and France boss Didier Deschamps said the 34-year-old must sort out his situation to avoid compromising his national team future.

With Giroud's contract set to end in June, his agent had suggested recently that the forward could seek a move away from Stamford Bridge in the January window.

"Oli is very important in our squad, he'll always want to play more," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash at French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais.

"I want him to be here, but I have a good relationship with him... if he feels differently we'll have that conversation.

"I saw Oli's agent's quotes and I didn't really think much of them. I understand that he wants to play, but for me it has to be about the strength of the squad. I think he has a big contribution for us."

Lampard said German midfielder Kai Havertz is fit to play after completing his period of isolation following a positive COVID-19 test this month while defender Thiago Silva is also available after missing their last league game.

American forward Christian Pulisic has recovered from a hamstring injury and will be ready for Sunday's Premier League clash against leaders Tottenham Hotspur.

"We are fully focused on Rennes, we have to respect this game and we have until Sunday to face Tottenham," added Lampard, whose side lead Group E with seven points from three games.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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