CHELSEA midfielder Michael Ballack is astonished Frank Lampard has not been shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award.
Chelsea’s title hopes all but evaporated against Everton on Wednesday night after their goalless draw left them six points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who also have a game in hand.
Coach Guus Hiddink accepts their title ambitions are all but over and now wants to focus on success in the Champions League and FA Cup.
Lampard produced another fine performance against the Toffees but could not unlock their stubborn defence.
However, the England international set up both goals as Chelsea beat Arsenal at Wembley last Saturday to reach the FA Cup final and was inspirational in their dramatic 4-4 draw with Liverpool which saw Chelsea progress to the Champions League semi-finals.
But he has failed to make the PFA shortlist and German international Ballack is stunned by his absence.
“Frank has played consistently at a high level all season,” said Ballack.
“I don’t know why he was not nominated but at Chelsea we know how good he is and that is all that matters.”
Chelsea suffered a slump in form at the start of 2009 and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was subsequently sacked.
But their form has been transformed under interim coach Hiddink.
The players voted for the PFA award at the end of January and the six-man shortlist is dominated by Manchester United players.
The winner is announced on Sunday and Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Edwin van der Sar and last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo are all in the running, along with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
Ballack, who has been in impressive form himself alongside Lampard and Michael Essien in Chelsea’s midfield, is adamant the England ace should have been among them.
“It is easy to play with Frank because he is such a good player,” added Ballack. “He knows what myself and Michael have to do and whether we should be in an offensive or defensive position.
“I play a little bit behind him but I don’t have to tell him what to do. He always does the right thing, depending on where myself and Essien are.
“Frank is one of the best players in the world for sure and I don’t think there are many players in the Premier League like him.”
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