England boss Fabio Capello insists Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard isn't going to be automatically put into the starting eleven...
The 33-year old has enjoyed a glistening England career and has 86 caps for his country, including his latest cap last Friday night against Bulgaria where he came off the bench. First spotted by current Bahrain coach Peter Taylor, Frank went on to make his under 21 debut on 13 November 1997 against a strong Greece side. The Chelsea no.8 played for the under 21's for 2 years and then went on to cap England at senior level for the first time 10 October 1999 in a victory over his fellow teamate Romelu Lukaku's country, Belgium. Frank scored his first international goal for England in 2003 in a 3-1 win over Croatia.
The Romford-born central midfielder had to wait until Euro 2004 to participate in his first international competition. He then went on to participate in the 2006 World Cup and the 2010 World Cup where he had that controversial goal dissallowed against Germany in the quarter finals where England eventually lost. A player that started his career with West Ham United when nobody had really heard of him, now he finds himself at one of the world's best teams and is known globally around the world. A player of much experience in playing in the Champions League, winning the Premier League title 3 times all with Chelsea, winning the FA Cup 3 times and Carling Cup 2 times and Fa Community Shield twice. Not to mention his individual awards in winning the FWA Player of the Year award, being named in the World Xl, being named England Player of the Year and winning PFA Fans' Player of the Year award all in one year, 2005. A player filled with honours.
Anyway enough with the facts, facts, facts. Frank has always been a intelligant player. What he lacks in pace he makes up in ability to pick out a player on the pitch, remarkable vision and awareness, thunderous long range shots and all round play. If he was just a little bit quicker and able in the air he'd be the perfect player. But now, at the age of 33, which is seen as old in the current football society Frank has been off form recently. Still playing well but not up to his usual standards. He had a good pre season in Aisa and won the Player of the Tournament award but hasn't looked that fit or raring to go so far this campaign. Yes, there have only been 3 games played but he's looked lethargic to say the least and you can tell he's near the end of the tunnel. Clearly Capello see's this and that is why he was left out of England's game against Bulgaria last Friday night. Spurs anchor man Scott Parker and Man City's Gareth Barry were the 2 central holding midfielders named with the injured Steven Gerrard out of the match and Lampard and Milner on the bench. Maybe Capello see's Lampard as backup for his future England plans? Maybe he thinks Parker, Barry, Milner, Gerrard, Huddlestone all have more potential to give to the team than Lampard? He was brought on with about 20 mins to go but failed to make an impression against a fairly weak Bulgarian midfield with fellow Barclays Premier League midfielder Stillian Petrov being Frank's opponent. Stillian got the better of him.
We shall see if Lampard starts in Tuesday night's tasty fixture with rivals Wales. I doubt it as Parker and Barry played so well last Friday night. I can only hope he can improve with Chelsea under Villa-Boas but with central midfielders such as the impressive Ramires, John Obi Mikel, new signing Raul Meireles, the exciting youngster Josh McEachran who will be hoping for some more first team action this season, Michael Essien coming back from injury reasonably soon(ish), talk of David Luiz moving into a more advanced holding midfielder role and upcoming English youngster Jacob Mellis all knocking on Boas's door, it'll be difficult for Lampard.
Is Frank Lamaprd's England career near the end? Will he be picked for the 2014 World Cup? We can only wait and see. Until then - good luck Frank!