FRANK LAMPARD is closing in on the signing of ex-Celtic star Efe Ambrose on a free transfer for Derby County on Monday.
The 30-year-old arrived at the club last week to undergo a medical and will pen a short-term contract to aid the Rams promotion push.
Ambrose, who last played a competitive game at the end of December, triggered a clause to be released from his contract with Hibernian in January.
The Nigerian international has remained fit since and has been training with Derby but the official paperwork was held up as the Rams faced Hull on Saturday.
Lampard, who has witnessed a defensive injury crisis at Pride Park, revealed to the Derby Telegraph: “It’s close to being finalised but not quite done, so I don’t want to jump the gun.”
Derby are in dire need of defensive cover after a season-ending injury to Curtis Davies left Richard Keogh and Fikayo Tomori as Lampard's only fit senior centre-backs.
The Chelsea legend previously stated that strengthening Derby's defence was "crucial" if they are to maintain their Championship promotion challenge.
Lampard said: "We know we have an area at centre back where we are certainly lacking cover/competition. Trying to get people fit who may be haven't been training is a challenge.
"With Ashley Cole, it has been a challenge, he is nearly there. Now we are talking about Efe Ambrose, who hasn't been playing, so that will be a challenge but if it feels a challenge worth taking to improve the squad, I have no fears about doing it.
"I have found him very nice, very good, very friendly, so as a character I think he would be great for us anyway.
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"I watched a lot of him, I know his strengths. He is a tall defender, very committed, wants to play on the ball, and quick.
"It is just about making sure about his level of fitness and that both sides are happy it is going to work."
Ambrose has Champions League experience from the five years he spent with Celtic, and he helped Nigeria win the African Cup of Nations tournament in 2013.
Derby currently sit seventh in the Championship, only outside the play-off spots on goal difference, but can move inside them with a win against Ipswich Town on Wednesday.