Lampard gets Le Tissier backing
Matt Le Tissier has backed Frank Lampard to continue as England's first-choice penalty taker despite his recent misses. The Chelsea midfielder has a good record from the spot but his miss in the FA Cup final was followed by another in the friendly win over Japan on Sunday. Former England midfielder Le Tissier was one of the best from 12 yards, converting 48 of the 49 penalties he took during his career. He said of Lampard: "If he backs himself then you've got to take that on board. Half the battle is if the player wants to be there. "Obviously if he misses five in a row then you might have to take the decision out of his hands but if he's still confident then let him have them." And Le Tissier's advice to his countrymen is simply to be positive. "For me it was a case of getting every negative thought out of my mind," said Le Tissier. "Coming in visualising the crowd erupting when the ball hit the back of the net was the thing for me and I always looked forward to taking penalties because it was the best chance I was going to get to score a goal in a game." England's record in shoot-outs is famously woeful but Le Tissier, who won eight caps for England in the 1990s, does not believe that should be a major factor in their fortunes this time. He said: "It might have an effect because everybody talks about it so much but you just have to try and put that our of your mind. "At the end of the day, they've got to stand up there and be confident and be arrogant enough to think, 'this is a free shot from 12 yards, surely I'm going to score'." The confidence surrounding England's chances in South Africa has subsided somewhat with injuries and indifferent form affecting a number of players but Le Tissier is backing Fabio Capello's men to go far. "I'm pretty confident," he said. "I think we can at least make the semi-finals and from that point on it's anyone's competition." The 41-year-old, meanwhile, has also tipped Diego Maradona's Argentina and Holland to challenge for the trophy. He continued. "Brazil and Spain are everyone's favourites but I'd be watching out for Argentina. I know they've struggled in qualification but often you find teams that do struggle a little bit all of a sudden pick up when they get to the World Cup finals and they could be one of those teams. Holland are a pretty good bet, they could be dangerous." And it is a Dutchman that Le Tissier is predicting will be the star of the show. He added: "Obviously Lionel Messi's had a fabulous season with Barcelona and he'll be one a lot of people will be looking for to be top man at the tournament. "But I'd go for a little dark horse who didn't play much at the back end of last season but is now fit again and that's Robin van Persie. I think he's a fabulous footballer and if he fires he could be the tournament's top scorer."
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