Lampard prepared to be judged on future not past

AS England get ready to experiment tonight, Frank Lampard insists no one’s place at next year’s World Cup finals is guaranteed.

England manager Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard

Chile are the visitors to Wembley for the first of three friendlies that the Three Lions will play before manager Roy Hodgson names his provisional 30-man squad for Brazil 2014 on May 13.

Hodgson has already indicated his intent to give up-and-coming talent a chance with Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana guaranteed to feature at some point against the South Americans, while either Jon Ruddy or Fraser Forster will start in goal as Joe Hart is rested.

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Steven Gerrard’s hip injury means the Three Lions captain will also be missing along with Kyle Walker and Daniel Sturridge.

Lampard, at 35 very much the elder statesman of the England side tonight, will wear the armband and he admits to taking nothing for granted when it comes to next year’s World Cup.

The Chelsea midfielder said: “We are all in the same boat in that we will be judged on what happens in the rest of the season.

“What we have done up to now carries a bit of weight, some more than others.

“But your form will have to be good enough in what is quite a big period of time – six or seven months until May when our season finishes.

“I don’t think it should be any other way. If I walked around thinking my 103 caps would get me on the plane, I would probably be on the beach, because that means you are taking things for granted.

“I don’t think any of us can afford to do that.”

Lampard will be presented with his 100th cap – won in September’s goalless draw in Ukraine – ahead of kick-off by his father, Frank Lampard senior, and Sir Geoff Hurst.

With 29 goals for his country and appearances at two previous World Cups, the 35-year-old, whose debut came against Belgium in 1999 when still at West Ham, has been an integral part of the international set-up for the best part of a decade.

However, with the likes of 
Lallana and former Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United loanee Ross Barkley pushing for a place in Hodgson’s plans, Lampard admits just getting into the squad could prove something of a dogfight.

He said: “You see the young players coming into the squad and pushing you and I understand that, no matter what age you are, you have to react. You have to worry about yourself and perform as well as you can.

“If you end up looking around at others wondering who are performing better, you take your eye off the ball. I am not silly. I understand that, with age and at different parts of your career, you have different challenges.

“I am very determined in my challenge to show the manager, regardless of age – and he has always said it doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 35 going on 36, he will not look at you any differently. That is nice to hear. The rest is up to me.”

Asked whether he might step away from England after the World Cup, Lampard replied: “I will be 36. I will make a call next summer, whether before, during or after the World Cup. I am not sure in my own head.”

Hodgson, meanwhile, is determined to use tonight’s friendly – which is expected to attract a crowd of around 60,000 – to assess England’s strength in depth ahead of what is likely to be a more recognised first-choice XI on Tuesday against Germany with Gerrard, Hart and Sturridge returning.

Asked if he had in mind the identity of the final 23-man squad he has to submit to FIFA by June 2 next year, the England manager replied: “No and there is a very simple reason for that.

“So many things can happen between now and May. It (selecting a squad) is an exercise that can be fun to do and I’m sure we all do it.

“But, basically, it is an exercise with no meaning, because if you remember, before we went to the Euros I lost Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Gary Cahill, John Ruddy.

“Who else did I lose? Kyle Walker. Wayne Rooney couldn’t play the first two games. So there were all of these people who for weeks on end had been part of my very clear group and then, all of a sudden, at the last minute, I hadn’t got them.

“The honest answer to your question is that I don’t do that at the moment. I have a larger group of players that we keep a very close eye on.

“At the moment, I can’t honestly say I have got 18 names stamped and I will only need another five because I would be lying.”

As for tonight’s challenge of taking on Chile – who qualified in third place behind Argentina and Colombia in the South American section – Lampard said: “We cannot just talk up Germany without being aware of Chile. They have got a great record in recent years, and were unfortunate not to win against Spain.

“They have drawn with Brazil and have plenty of talented players that we know about. It will be a different style of play than we are used to and so a very tough game, but we are ready for it.”

England newcomers looking to feast on Chile: Page 22.