Frank Lampard’s international career appears to be in the balance after he was left on the bench by Fabio Capello for England’s European qualifier in Bulgaria last week. At 33, Lampard remains one of the senior players still part of the England set-up, but doubts over his future on the international stage have arose after Gareth Barry and Scott Parker look to have formed an impressive partnership in the heart of England’s midfield. Capello is currently without the injured duo of Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard who are also both likely to be in contention for a starting place when fully fit but, considering the contribution that Lampard has made to English football both domestically and nationally, has his place in England side not been dismissed a little hastily?
Lampard has proven his ability, particularly at club level with Chelsea, throughout his career and has racked up over 500 appearances for the West London side. The midfielder is now entering his eleventh season at Stamford Bridge, and already has an astounding 171 goals to his name, as well as over 100 assists. Since 2003, Lampard has always guaranteed double figures in terms of goals at Chelsea, and just two seasons ago was the league’s highest scoring midfielder with 22 goals. Last season, an injury plagued season saw Lampard make just 24 league appearances for the Blues, but the midfielder still chipped in with 10 goals to help Chelsea’s bid to try and retain the Premier League.
Lampard’s struggle with fitness last season is perhaps a factor in Capello’s decision to leave him on the bench last Friday, and as with the likes of Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe, the Italian has insisted these players “will be important when they are in top form.” This will surely be the case with Gerrard and Wilshere as well once they return from injury, and so for now, both Barry and Parker look set to remain Capello’s first choice in the centre of England’s midfield.
Lampard earned his first senior international cap for England back in October 1999, although he did not become a regular part of the national side until the retirement of Paul Scholes in 2004. Lampard was hugely impressive in the European Championships in 2004, scoring three goals in four games for England, and earning a place in UEFA’s ‘team of the tournament’. Lampard also proved crucial to England’s World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign, and was the country’s top scorer with five goals, including two important winners against both Austria and Poland.
The Lampard and Gerrard partnership in the centre of midfield had often raised several eyebrows, and after a goalless World Cup ended with a missed penalty in the quarterfinals, initial skepticism over Lampard’s importance to the national side intensified, and the midfielder appears to have struggled somewhat to convince those skeptics that he is worthy of a place in the England set up ever since. Gerrard was the best of a bad bunch in the 2010 World Cup, as Lampard was remembered for only a disallowed goal in England’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Germany. So far this year Lampard has made just 4 appearances for England, his lowest since 2003, and even consistency at club level may not prove to be enough to regain a place in the national side.
In 87 international appearances, Frank Lampard has 22 goals to his name. Considering his record at club level this figure seems hardly prolific, but his contribution to the national side cannot be brought into question. Lampard has shown consistency at international level, and has often proved to be England’s best player as he was in both Euro 2004 and in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. England’s disastrous campaign in South Africa left many fans urging for a development of ‘youth’ in the national side, and while the likes of Wilshere, Cleverley, Smalling among others have certainly shown the potential to be the future of the English football, it seems Capello may have dismissed Lampard’s role in the national side a little too readily.
If Lampard can replicate the kind of form he has shown in previous seasons at Chelsea, then Capello may be called up on the ‘importance’ that he has claimed the midfielder to hold in the England set-up. However, while England are winning, and both Parker and Barry are fit (and on ‘top-form’), both Capello and England fans are likely to be reluctant to change. When the likes of Gerrard and Wilshere return to full-fitness the Italian may be faced with a more troubling dilemma than he is now, but with just two qualifiers remaining for the 2012 European Championships, Frank Lampard must surely still have role to play in ensuring England can top Group G.
Time for Lamps to move on? Is his omission from the England XI not a little hasty by Capello? Let me know your thoughts either below or @sixthofficial on Twitter!