Lampard must step up or face the inevitable: Capello

04 September 2011 11:30

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard can no longer count on being first choice for England, coach Fabio Capello said on Sunday.

The 33-year-old was dropped for the first time in four years for a competitive match in Friday's 3-0 Euro 2012 qualifier victory over Bulgaria and Capello revealed that the former West Ham star needed to step up his performances after what he thought had been two underwhelming appearanmces for Chelsea this season.

Instead Capello opted for Manchester City's Gareth Barry and new Spurs signing Scott Parker - the first time that neither Lampard nor Steven Gerrard had featured in an England line-up in a competitive match in nine years - and the indications are that the Italian will stick with them for Tuesday's home qualifier against Wales.

"(Lampard) is one of the best English midfielders, but I need to choose the players, not the name," said Capello.

"The first two games he played were not good and at this moment Barry is in really good form. My players. will need to accept my decisions."

Lampard, capped 87 times since making his debut in 1999, did come on as a substitute but he is one of the 30-something players who were clearly in his Chelsea team-mate and England captain John Terry's mind when he said that the established players were under threat from a new group of younger players.

However, Capello said that it was not a case of Lampard - scorer of 22 international goals - being discarded completely.

"It is the start of the season and he (Lampard) needs to play more games," reflected Capello.

"Frank is part of this squad. He is a professional and when he came on he was really focussed and did well."

However, Capello - who is in his last qualifying tournament with England before he steps down - said that he wasn't prepared to throw young players into the starting line-up just for the sake of it hence why Bolton's Gary Cahill had got the nod ahead of Manchester United's Phil Jones.

"That wasn't a hard decision," said Capello.

"Cahill has got some caps, he had started a match.

"In an important game, you need someone with confidence, who knows what happens in this kind of game.

"Jones is the future, but he needs time. I also chose Chris Smalling for the first time and now he understands it is different to play here.

"When you are with your team-mates, you know everything - where the ball is going, the movement of the players.

"Here it is not the same and the quality of the opponent is always really high because they are the best players in their country."

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
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