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Mar 28, 2011

Lampard: I feared the axe

Frank Lampard has accepted that he will no longer be an automatic choice for England following the emergence of Jack Wilshere and the performance of Scott Parker against Wales.

• England v Ghana preview
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• Forum: Parker now a must-pick?

Lampard started against Wales in Cardiff, scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot, but there had been speculation that he would be left on the bench in favour of Manchester City's James Milner.

The Chelsea star, who skippered the side in Denmark last month, is well aware that he may not be a fixture in the side in the future, especially when Steven Gerrard is available again.

Lampard, who turns 33 in June, said of the speculation about his role at the Millennium Stadium: "With England, that happens. I've been around a long time and been lucky enough to be very regular, and I tried not to let it concern me.

"We don't get the papers in there but I was aware of the talk. It's a good squad, a strong squad, and never for any minute should any player be resting on their laurels about getting picked. That's it.

"I'm 32 now and have been around a long time. So it wasn't a sleepless night. I obviously want to play and contribute, so I tried to work hard in training and try and give my best all the time."

Lampard praised the performance of his midfield partners in Wales.

"Scott [Parker] carried on doing what he does for West Ham," Lampard said. "He's been fantastic at that all season and the benefit of having an extra man in midfield showed itself.

"The three of us in there, particularly in the first half, allowed us to really get a grip of the game. I think it's nice. It allows you to get a bit more forward. It allows you to get tighter in midfield and, you know, sometimes it's not that easy.

"We played Denmark in a friendly and, sometimes, when there are people behind you, you can't always commit to getting tight to their deep-lying midfield players. There was the bonus today of having the extra man in there to allow us to push in tight.

"We won that game early with our performance. We had a plan to press up high, win the ball back quickly and not let them play, and that worked completely. They couldn't get out of their own half much, especially in the first half an hour, and that's where the game was won: being 2-0 up from there.

"The atmosphere was brilliant. They wanted to use that atmosphere to inspire their players and, when you've got that behind you, it does inspire. But, as the team coming here, you have to let it inspire you too.

"We had to win this and it was a game that, on paper, we should have won even if it was not going to be easy. We did it. With Switzerland coming up, if we can win that game as well, we'll put ourselves in a strong position."

Meanwhile, John Terry praised new central defensive partner Michael Dawson, who he believes fully deserves his chance in international football.

But Terry feels the centre-half has reaped the benefits of playing Champions League football after recovering from his injury setbacks.

Terry said: "There is a lot of competition at centre-back but Michael has made the position his own really. In the Champions League he has been really good for Tottenham this season and maybe that is the key for him as well.

"Playing in the big competitions against the big players can only help anyone as a player. Michael has certainly done well in the last couple of games for England.

"There were some real positives to come out of it again. Ashley Young, I thought again was superb, Scott Parker and young Jack Wilshere also did well."

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