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May 18, 2014

Lampard to be England's vice-captain

FC's Steve Nicol and Craig Burley discuss England's options up front named in Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad.

Roy Hodgson has dropped his biggest hint yet that he will partner Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in England's midfield at the World Cup.

Hodgson, speaking to the FA's official website, revealed that Lampard will be vice-captain when the squad travels to Brazil for next month's showpiece.

The 35-year-old Chelsea midfielder has been capped 103 times and has been chosen over Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney to deputise for skipper Gerrard.

"Frank's been the vice-captain all along in Steven's absences, which I think has been twice," Hodgson said. "He's stepped up quite brilliantly.

"I've always thought that he was going to be a key member of this 23 because of his experience and what he brings to the team apart from pure footballing ability. He brings a lot of other things to us in terms of his leadership qualities and characteristics."

Earlier, Hodgson likened the pressure Wayne Rooney faces to the expectation on Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson to churn out Oscar-winning performances.

The 28-year-old missed the last three matches of Manchester United's woeful season with a groin injury and has taken two fitness coaches on his pre-tournament holiday to Portugal in a bid to get fully fit.

The forward has failed to score in his eight World Cup appearances to date and was also frustrated at Euro 2012, missing the first two matches through suspension. Rooney also faced a fitness battle for that event, but Hodgson is confident no such problems will arise this time around.

"I don't think going into this tournament we've got anything to fear in terms of Wayne's a) commitment b) fitness and c) desire,'' he said. "In that respect, maybe, if you compare to 2012 when he couldn't play the first two games and was disappointed and frustrated, it is looking better for us.

"I would like to think as well that this squad we've picked is a good one, an exciting one, with some very good players and he'll get some good help around him. He won't have to shoulder the total burden of goalscoring and goal-making. There are plenty of players out there who can score a goal, or make a goal.

"If I was Wayne Rooney, I would be thinking 'right, this is looking good, I am feeling good, I have good players around me, this is a great opportunity for me'.

"He knows the expectations, he knows how much everyone who writes or watches or discusses football demands of him, but all I can say is that I am confident he will give us the best he has got. As a football coach, you can't ask anyone to give you more than that.

"You can only hope your attention to prepare him falls on soil which will enable the plant to grow and that when he gets on the field he will feel 'right, I am Wayne Rooney, I feel good, I am going to play, I am going to do all things that built me up to what I am'.

"I am sure it must be the same for Hollywood film stars. When you start off, you make your first film and no-one knows much about you. You might get a few good reviews, but one day you're going to be Al Pacino or be Jack Nicholson, and then suddenly you better make a f------ good film.''

England will play friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras before beginning their World Cup campaign against Italy on June 14.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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