|Poland 1-1P Portugal||Wales vs Belgium||Germany vs Italy||France vs Iceland|
|Quarterfinal 1 - Jun 30 3pm||Quarterfinal 2 - Jul 1 3pm||Quarterfinal 3 - Jun 2 3pm||Quarterfinal 4 - Jul 3 3pm|
Injuries, lots of injuries... they’ve cost Lampard much this season. Eventually, the Chelsea midfielder has made only 21 appearances in all competitions for the Blues, so far. Remarkably, however, Lampard has managed to clinch 9 goals and to have 5 assists in his name already. So does he lack match fitness?
Well, looking at his recent achievements, one may prefer to think that if he's not in top form, he is at least in good shape enough to represent England against Wales this weekend. Lampard has considerably contributed in most of Chelsea’s positive aspects since the past few weeks. Call it luck or not, but the number 8 midfielder was the one who downed Manchester United at the Bridge from the spot.
He was also one of the forces behind the Blues’ vital 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League earlier this month as Chelsea’s title hopes experienced a revival. In addition, he also played the full 90 minutes of his most recent game (that was against Manchester City last weekend).
So considering Frank Lampard’s form, there may only be one reason as to why he deserves to make the bench against Wales: this is simply because England have multiple options to choose from when it comes to midfielders – and those are all very good options, arguably better than Frank Lampard.
Before quickly refuting the last line above, let’s look at the players that are set to restrict Lampard to a bench role against Wales. Firstly, it is clear that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has got his named engraved in England’s starting line up for Saturday’s Euro 2012 qualifying match.
Coach Fabio Capello even recently branded Wilshere as "a leader" and "a top player not only in England but in Europe" at the youth level. So whether the public agrees with Capello or not, the reality is that the Arsenal midfielder has been guaranteed to start against Wales.
And if Frank Lampard is almost certain to have no place beside the young Gunner, it is because of Gareth Barry and Scott Parker’s presence. As The Sun has suggested, England coach Fabio Capello may be tempted to put his eyes on this duo as he looks to settle things for the defensive midfield area away to Wales this weekend.
West Ham’s Scott Parker has already made 13 more appearances than Frank Lampard, although his club has played less matches than Champions League contenders Chelsea. Parker has also impressed Fabio Capello with his 7 goals but if the Hammer’s league position (they are 17th) may give doubts to England’s manager, Manchester City’s Gareth Barry appears good for selection. Here comes another midfielder who’s played more matches than Frank Lampard as well this season.
Now in case someone wonders about the spaces left out wide in Capello’s formation, the answer can be given right away: Aaron Lennon and James Milner’s remarkable performances this term can simply not be ignored. Sorry, Frank!
And there he goes (or is expected to go): from captaining England against Denmark in February to starting Saturday’s match against Wales from the bench. Agonising. This should bring some embarrassment upon Frank Lampard who described the Three Lions’ victory over the Danes as one of his greatest moments in his career.