Derby skipper Richard Keogh is keeping his fingers crossed that manager Frank Lampard will not be lured back to Chelsea should Maurizio Sarri depart.
Sarri, who led the Blues to Europa League glory in his first season in charge, has found himself at the centre of speculation that he could leave Stamford Bridge this summer and move to Juventus.
Lampard, who made 648 appearances and scored a club-record 211 goals for Chelsea, has been linked with any potential vacancy after leading the Rams to within 90 minutes of the Premier League.
Asked if he would be sad to see the former England midfielder go, Keogh said: “Yes, for sure.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the gaffer and working with him in his first season. He’s going to have a fantastic career as a manager, for sure.
“Naturally with the speculation that’s going on regarding Sarri, the gaffer is obviously going to get mentioned because of the legendary status he’s got at that football club and doing such a good job with us.
“But as far as I know, he’s looking forward to next season as much as I am. It would be a shame to see him leave, for sure, but I think in this industry when you’re doing a good job and you are Frank Lampard, then you’re going to be linked with jobs.
“Hopefully he stays. Like I say, I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s really improved the football club and me as a player as well and I have got a good relationship with him, so hopefully that continues.”
Keogh is on international duty with the Republic of Ireland ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar.
He met up with the squad just days after suffering the disappointment of a 2-1 Sky Bet Championship play-off final defeat by Aston Villa at Wembley.
The 32-year-old’s seven seasons at Pride Park have yielded four top-six finishes but Derby are yet to make it to the top flight.
And he is more determined than ever to end that run of disappointments next season.
He said: “Whenever you suffer a bit of a heartbreak, it does make you more determined to achieve your goal the next season.
“The last five or six years, we’ve always been challenging near the top of the league, so we’ve just got to make sure that we keep our standards high and give ourselves another opportunity.”