Steven Gerrard, who will captain England against Bulgaria and Switzerland, has suggested the European Championship qualifying campaign will see several new players break into the Three Lions squad. Gerrard will take the armband against Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday night and against Switzerland in Basle next week as Rio Ferdinand is ruled out with a knee injury. Ferdinand is not the only high-profile absentee: his defensive partner John Terry is missing, as are Frank Lampard, Peter Crouch, Bobby Zamora and Robert Green. Add to that the international retirements of Emile Heskey and Wes Brown, Jamie Carragher's return to exile plus the decision to overlook David James and Ledley King, and it could be an unfamiliar Three Lions side that bids to reach the 2012 finals in Austria and Poland. "After the team underperformed in South Africa there have been changes made," said Gerrard. "With injuries to big players as well it's a fantastic opportunity for players to perform well and give the manager something to think about when we get together again. "It'll really help if we put in a good performance tomorrow and get the maximum points. Then we can take the confidence from that into the Switzerland game on Tuesday. "It's very important that we make a statement and show that we want to win the group and qualify comfortably. We qualified for the World Cup playing good, attacking football. If we can perform at that level I'm sure we'll get out of this group in similar fashion."