Former England midfielder Frank Lampard has urged the England team to play without fear at Euro 2016 this summer. Speaking in The Times, he recalled the fear factor which set in particularly during Fabio Capello’s tenure as England boss.
He spoke of the perception of the England shirt carrying a weight at previous tournaments, and the inhibiting affect this had even on senior players like him. But he resolutely backed England’s fresh-faced squad to banish this perception.
“I look at this squad now and there’s a real fearlessness in it. Dele Alli – I don’t see any fear there.” Lampard is the latest of a plethora of former players and pundits who have spoken out positively about England’s campaign this summer with a genuine feeling starting to emerge that there is reason for England to be hopeful this summer.
Lampard was insistent that England should aim high, and not only as high as the Quarter Finals, the stage England have not got passed since they hosted the European Championships in 1996.
He said “I keep hearing people saying quarter-finals will be OK for us, but I don’t want to say that. I think we can make the semi-finals”. If England can immerse themselves in this positivity, they have every chance of making that stage or even make a first major tournament final since 1966.
Today it also emerged that Roy Hodgson is set to include Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling in his starting eleven, whilst excluding Jack Wilshere as he abandons the 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Wilshere is short of match fitness having only made one Premier League start in 2015/16, but his exclusion is somewhat a surprise given Hodgson’s valuation of the box-to-box midfielder, whose performance in qualifying away at Slovenia, in which he scored twice, particularly caught the eye.
Question marks have been roused in the media over Hodgson’s loyalty to Wayne Rooney, which came to a head when Hodgson seemed to push the Premier League’s two top scorers, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, into unfamiliar wide positions to accommodate for England’s top goal scorer.
Lampard, however, was insistent that Rooney should start: “Rooney should play. Even if Kane starts on his own up front, I would use Wayne deeper. People underestimate his intelligence and his ability on the ball.”
England’s first match is against Russia on Saturday in Marseilles.