Frank Lampard has been told that his omission from the starting line-up for England’s 3-0 Euro 2012 qualifying victory away to Bulgaria on Friday night may be a sign of things to come.
The 87-times capped midfielder was only a sub despite injuries to Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere, and rather than a new kid on the scene taking his place, it was fellow 30-somethings Gareth Barry and Scott Parker who pushed him to the side.
Both took the opportunity presented to them by Fabio Capello well, prompting the Italian tactician to admit that 33-year-old Lampard faces a tough battle to regain his spot in the side.
He said: “Lampard is one of the best English midfielders, but I need to choose the players, not the name. The first two games he played (for Chelsea) were not good and at this moment Barry is in really good form. My players…will need to accept my decisions.”
Those comments have inevitably fuelled speculation that the former West Ham man will retire from international duty to help prolong his club career at Stamford Bridge, a strategy that paid off well for Paul Scholes at Manchester United in recent years.
Lampard has claimed before that he wouldn’t abandon his country though, vowing to fight on in the wake of criticism after last year’s World Cup humbling at the hands of Germany, and Capello hasn’t ruled out him returning to the team against Wales.
Capello said: “I need to wait because he’s got two training sessions before Tuesday’s match against Wales and I don’t know what will happen.”
The Three Lions will be a point away from winning Group G if they defeat their neighbours, who did them a huge favour by beating Montenegro on Friday, and are 8/11 to triumph without conceding.