Frank Lampard will become the eighth player to reach 100 international caps for England against Ukraine tonight as confirmed by manager Roy Hodgson.
It’s a crucial game for the Three Lions as they bid for a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. A win would open up a gap between them and the likes of Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland at the top of Group H with two further games remaining.
Veterans from the FA’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’, which includes Lampard as well as both Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole, have come under a lot of criticism over the years because they have failed to live up to expectations but Hodgson argues that their presence is a godsend.
He told reporters:
“He [Lampard] will play tomorrow night and I have been very lucky to have three players play their 100th game during the time I have been manager. All things being equal Frank will play and start the game tomorrow.
“I don’t think there will be many players who will play for England for two or three years, let alone 14 years. Fourteen years is a long time to be representing your country.”
All three of England’s current centurions will start the match tonight with the only change being made to the XI being a replacement for the suspended Danny Welbeck.
Things haven’t always gone as well as hoped for England’s star players and as a collective they have let us down often enough but despite what the likes of Adrian Durham say it is a time for celebration for Lampard, who already has an impressive 29 goals (ninth highest scorer) for his country from midfield and hopefully he’ll mark the occasion of his 100th appearances for England with a crucial goal.
England really ought to qualify for the World Cup, it isn’t as tough a qualifying group as they are making it out to be and the real tests will come next summer. The odds will really be against them then but Lampard doesn’t just want to go to make up the numbers, he wants to try to win.
The 35-year-old said:
“I enjoy being with this group of [England ] players. I enjoy the manager, I have a lot of respect for him.
“In enjoy playing alongside Steven [Gerrard] and Ashley [Cole], who I have played with a long time, and England as a whole – we want to get to the World Cup.”
There’s life in the old dog yet (although I think Jose Mourinho should use him a bit more sparingly than he is currently). Congratulations to Lampard.