The England manager, Roy Hodgson, has insisted he will not be affected by "past judgements" on the wisdom of playing Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard together in midfield and said the partnership will get its chance, as the qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014 gets under way in Moldova this week.
Hodgson, whose preparations for Friday's match in Chisinau were affected by the withdrawal yesterday of left-back Ashley Cole with a minor ankle injury sustained in Chelsea's Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, appears ready to revive the pairing. Getting the best out of the two in the same team was largely beyond the wit of Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren or Fabio Capello.
"No one has [seen any obstacles] to them playing together," Hodgson said of Gerrard and Lampard – with whom in a starting line-up England have won 32 games, drawn 12 and lost seven. "They're both very good players. It's simple. They haven't been together in my time as England manager and I don't see any obstacles as to why they can't play together in the England team."
Cole's availability for the more challenging of England's two qualifiers – against Ukraine at Wembley Stadium next Tuesday – is now in jeopardy, with Leighton Baines and Ryan Bertrand available as cover.