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Feb, 10, 2013

Lampard: England spot in jeopardy

Frank Lampard has admitted his place in the heart of England's midfield is in jeopardy after revealing his club future is still nowhere near decided.

Lampard celebrated his 94th cap for his country by scoring the winner against Brazil in a recent friendly at Wembley Stadium, but the 34-year-old holds no illusions that he will remain a certain starter as national manager Roy Hodgson plots the Three Lions' route to next year's World Cup.

And despite Hodgson publicly stating the Chelsea player remains a strong part in his plans, Lampard knows only too well playing regularly club football is the only way to guarantee a starting spot.

"I'm old enough and realistic enough to know that I have to take every squad as it comes," Lampard said. "It's a big cliché but I have to make sure I try to keep this level up because if I drop there's plenty of competition in midfield for England now.

"No-one will get picked on past glories, they'll get picked on how they're doing now.

"At the moment I'm playing pretty regularly every three or four days and I'm feeling pretty good.

"I'm going to keep playing and, if I feel I'm good enough and the manager picks me, I'll keep playing for England for as long as I can."

However, Lampard's future with reigning European champions Chelsea remains murky , with the player kept in the dark as to whether the club will offer him a new contract.

And despite scoring his 198th Chelsea goal in the victory over Wigan, Stamford Bridge officials remains silent on the matter with Lampard's agent claiming Chelsea have yet to make an approach for the midfielder.

But despite the ongoing saga, Lampard continues to perform for the Stamford Bridge faithful and in the process, keep Brazil 2014 on the horizon.

"I've always said I'd like to stay at Chelsea. That's always been clear. I don't know what's happening next year. That is all pretty clear as well. I'm just playing at the minute," Lampard said.

"It would be an amazing place to play in Brazil. If I wanted to retire from England I would have done that.

"You know it doesn't go on forever and you become more aware of that. I don't take anything for granted so, every time I do get involved with England now, it feels absolutely brilliant.''

Meanwhile, Hodgson has been forced to defend contentious remarks that he would be happy to settle for a qualifying play-off spot in the race to Brazil.

England sit second in its qualifying group, two points behind Montenegro and three points above third placed Poland.

And if things remain the same for the remainder of qualification, England would be forced into a last-ditch two-legged tie against one of the other eight group runner-ups, a situation unthinkable for the success-derived English public.

However, Hodgson, echoing the fans sentiment, has reiterated his desire to qualify for Brazil at the first time of asking.

"I have never said I would settle for (a runner-up spot)," Hodgson said. "We are trying to win the group.

"What I might have said is if we don't win the group, we will try and win the play-offs.

"But there is no question of us taking a play-off route.

"We were the top seeds in the group. We are seeded to win it."

However, the England manager did admit success wasn't solely based on desire, believing there was a long, hard road in front of the squad, and struggles, similar to those of a Premier League relegation scrap, would be met and fought.

"All teams like ourselves accept the responsibility and will do our best," Hodgson added. "But I won't be accepting it is over until we are more than three points off first place and there is only one game left to play.

"Don't forget I was at Fulham when we had three games to go and were 2-0 down at Manchester City.

"But we never gave it up. We never said we can't do it. And in the end we got out of it."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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