Frank Lampard has confessed he is unsure of what the summer holds for him at both international and domestic level, despite the fact he captains England into battle against Chile on Friday.
Lampard is expected to go to the World Cup, having featured in England’s four most recent qualifying games and amassing 102 caps for his country.
However, the Chelsea midfielder insists he is extremely nervous about his place in Roy Hodgson’s squad ahead of two friendlies—the second against Germany on Tuesday—that could make or break his selection.
Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail provides the quotes:
I’m not silly — especially when you see the young players coming into the squad and pushing me.
No matter what age you are, you have to react. You have to worry about yourself and perform as well as you can.
If I walked around thinking my 103 caps would get me on the plane, I’d probably be on the beach because that means you’re taking things for granted.
In the case of Lampard, it is likely his fight over the coming months will actually be for a place in Hodgson’s starting XI in Rio, rather than a spot in his squad.
Hodgson has used the veteran midfielder in five international friendlies and seven World Cup qualifiers since Aug. 2012, and clearly continues to view Lampard as a quality option in his side.
Given Steven Gerrard’s role as skipper, in addition to the form of strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, Lampard will likely find himself fighting for one available space at the heart of England’s midfield.
Michael Carrick represents a suitable anchor to Gerrard, sitting deep and controlling the tempo with his passing, while Jack Wilshere has also performed that role for England.
Who should partner Gerrard for England?
Lampard arguably does not combine as naturally with Gerrard and therefore may be viewed as cover for the Liverpool man at the World Cup, but his overall squad place is unlikely to be in doubt.
Hodgson has introduced the likes of Adam Lallana to his squad, while Everton’s Ross Barkley, Manchester United’s Phil Jones and West Ham’s Ravel Morrison could all enter the manager’s thinking.
However, if England were to reach a quarterfinal and Gerrard was suddenly unavailable, it would be a huge gamble for Hodgson to leave himself relying on players who are yet to earn 10 England caps.
At club level, Lampard still hopes to earn a new contract at Chelsea, where he is currently ticking off the final months of his existing deal. The 35-year-old admits he does not know if he will be searching for a new club this summer, per Ashton's article:
I feel good. I want to play for a few more years and I’d love to do that at Chelsea for as long as they want me and for as long as I feel I’m contributing there …
If the time came when Chelsea said “thanks very much for your service”, I’d have to look at that one.
Lampard has only scored twice for Chelsea this season and may not fit the athletic, powerful criteria Jose Mourinho sets for his Stamford Bridge squad.
Should the Blues continue to struggle—having dropped points to Newcastle and West Brom in their last two matches—Lampard may well find himself culled as a signal of intent by the demanding Chelsea boss.