FURIOUS Chelsea officials are likely to ask the FA for nearly £1m in compensation after Frank Lampard was ruled out until Christmas — because he was bundled aboard a budget flight to Qatar.
The England midfielder spent seven hours cramped in economy seats to Doha for tomorrow’s friendly against Brazil — and a scan today could confirm those conditions caused the thigh injury which will put him out of action for seven weeks.
Lampard pulled up during a training session at Doha’s Al Saad ground yesterday and was promptly sent back to London — first class.
The Blues are reported to be furious and will now claim for Lampard’s £151,000-a-week wages, according to The Sun. That would cost around £900,000.
The FA flew the England squad on a charter plane designed for shorter flights, with seats that barely reclined and no sign of the flat beds usually reserved for such long journeys.
It is reported that several members of the squad complained of cramps and muscle pains after the flight.
Lampard did train in Doha but after warming up, he strained his left thigh during sprint runs.
A FA statement read: “We can confirm Frank Lampard picked up an injury while training and will be returning home. There will be no further call-ups.”
If Lampard’s injury proves as bad as feared, he will miss vital clashes with Arsenal and Manchester City over the coming weeks.
The move is a further blow for Chelsea, who have lost Jose Bosingwa for three months, while Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba are also struggling with injuries.
Meanwhile, Michael Essien, John Mikel Obi, Salomon Kalou and Drogba are all set to play in the Africa Cup of Nations during January.
England aren’t in a great position either. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who has been troubled by a groin injury, did not travel to Doha first class or economy — though he did play in the 2-2 draw with Birmingham City on Monday.
Gerrard’s Liverpool team mate Glen Johnson also withdrew from Fabio Capello’s squad while midfielder David Beckham has play-offs with LA Galaxy.
That leaves England to put out a midfield without the experienced trio of Lampard, Gerrard or Beckham for the first time since Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Carrick, Gareth Barry and Stuart Downing were on duty in the 2-1 win against Germany in Berlin almost exactly a year ago.