Frank Lampard said on Sunday that he does not want his England career to peter out this year with another ignominious failure to qualify for a major tournament, as he prepares to win his 100th cap in the team’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on Tuesday night in Kiev.
Lampard, 35, will become only the eighth man in history to win 100 England caps should Roy Hodgson select him against Ukraine, 13 years and 11 months since the Chelsea midfielder made his international debut in a friendly against Belgium, alongside, among others, his cousin Jamie Redknapp and Steve Guppy.
England lead Group H on goal difference from Montenegro in second, with Ukraine a point behind in third. Should England avoid defeat tomorrow and win their two further qualifiers at home next month against Montenegro and Poland then the top spot and automatic qualification place will be assured.
Lampard said that “realistically” this was his last season as an international: “I would love us to get there [to Brazil] because then it prolongs the year and it would be great – if I was selected – to go out there. I don’t want to say I will retire [from international football] after that because I have never wanted to say that. But realistically, young players are coming through. At 36 not too many players play on at international level. I will leave that statement until then.
“I would hate [not to qualify]. I enjoy being with this group of players. I enjoy playing for the manager, I have a lot of respect for him. I enjoy playing with the young kids in the team and alongside Steven [Gerrard] and Ashley [Cole] who I have played with a long time. England as a whole, we want to get to the World Cup. So I wouldn’t want to go out like that [not qualifying].”
The Football Association’s Sir Trevor Brooking, director of football development, said that England could not afford to lose tomorrow’s qualifier. He said: “No one needs to highlight that Ukraine are an extremely good side. They’re getting better.
“We must not lose because I am pretty sure they will win their last two games and they would then top the group [if they beat England]. We’ve got to draw or win. It is one of those crunch games. It’s good that we go into it on the back of a good performance.”
The England squad flew out to Kiev yesterday without the new FA chairman Greg Dyke who will not be at the game.
The FA said he had a private business meeting which was unconnected with his new role and had been arranged before he took the chairman’s job. Dyke also missed the Scotland game last month while he was on holiday.
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