Veteran Lampard to lead out youthful English
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England manager Roy Hodgson is hoping some of Frank Lampard's experience will rub off on his young squad after naming the Chelsea midfielder as captain for Wednesday's friendly against Italy.

Hodgson has left many of his established stars, including Wayne Rooney and UEFA EURO 2012 skipper Steven Gerrard, at home for a match that is being held just three days before the English Premier League seasons gets underway.

But Lampard, who was forced to watch England's EURO quarter-final penalty shootout exit to the Italians while on holiday in the south of France because of a thigh injury, is seen by Hodgson as the perfect man to lead an experimental team as the focus turns towards qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. "I missed him, of course, during the EUROs. When you've got players of Frank Lampard's quality, it's a great pity that they get injured," Hodgson said.

Lampard, who has scored 23 goals and will win his 91st cap for England, is not the only familiar face making his comeback, with Manchester United's Michael Carrick also stepping back into the fray after choosing not to go to EURO 2012. "Luckily he has reconsidered his decision and he's keen to play for us, so I've got another quality player coming back that I didn't have during EURO 2012," Hodgson said.

As disappointing as missing the European cup of nations was for Lampard, the chance to take a proper break after helping Chelsea finally get their hands on the UEFA Champions League has left him fresh and raring to go for the season ahead.

I think its actually a very beneficial game for us.
Frank Lampard on the friendly with Italy

 

"It was disappointing to get injured obviously but I've had a great break of a month to five weeks which I've never had before," the 34-year-old said. "I was actually away with my family in the south of France so we watched the game [the quarter-final defeat to Italy] out there. It was frustrating because I really fancied us in that game, even when it went to penalties."

With the EUROs now out of the way, Hodgson knows that he will be properly judged on how his team performs in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil where they are in Group H with Poland, Ukraine, Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino.

A new generation of players is coming through, and Lampard says he is pleased to still be in Hodgson's thoughts, even if he will be 36 by the time the world finals comes round. "I'm pleased that I'm still in his plans, and if I can be at a level where I deserve to be in the squad then I want to be here."

Questions have been asked about the benefit of staging such a game at this time of year, but with an opening World Cup qualifier to come in Moldova on 7 September, Lampard insists that there will be plenty for England to take away from the Stade de Suisse.

"I know this game is contentious but I think the manager picked a good squad, an intelligent squad," he said. "He wanted to rest some of the players and give some young players a chance to be involved in an international game. I think its actually a very beneficial game for us."

Hodgson saw Theo Walcott pull out of the game with a thigh injury on Tuesday morning, with the Arsenal winger joining teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge and Manchester City number one Joe Hart in withdrawing.

He is likely to use the occasion to blood stars of the future such as Chelsea full-back Ryan Bertrand and Birmingham City's 19-year-old goalkeeper Jack Butland, but he also wants a win to boost confidence ahead of the World Cup campaign. "I think both ourselves and Italy are going to go out and try to win the game - there's no question about that," he said.