ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has described midfielder Frank Lampard as the natural choice to be his World Cup vice-captain.
Should Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard become unavailable once the tournament kicks off on 13 June, Lampard will wear the armband, as he has done six times before in 103 England appearances.
And Hodgson feels there is no better man for the job.
“Frank’s been the vice-captain all along in Steven’s [Gerrard] absences, which I think has been two, he’s stepped up quite brilliantly,” said the England boss.
“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.”
Lampard and his team-mates jet off to Portugal today for a five-day training camp, with injured Manchester United utility man Phil Jones also on the plane.
The 22-year-old has been named in Hodgson’s 23-man squad set for Brazil despite suffering a shoulder injury against Hull in the final week of the season.
But Jones’s inclusion in the trip to Vale de Lobo will give Hodgson hope he could be fit enough to play some part in England’s pre-World Cup friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras.
Hodgson meanwhile, has backed Gerrard to use this summer’s showpiece to get over a disappointing end to the Premier League season with Liverpool.
The Reds surrendered the title to Manchester City after winning just one of their last three matches, but Hodgson expects the central midfielder to regain his focus ahead of England’s opening group match against Italy on 14 June.
“He’s got to get over that disappointment and get his World Cup head on and I know he will,” added Hodgson. “He cares desperately about Liverpool, but he cares equally about England, so his mindset when it come to England will be spot on.”