Frank Lampard's injury opens up midfield chance for Wayne Rooney


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The Independent Football

Frank Lampard is Roy Hodgson's only injury doubt for the World Cup qualifier against San Marino tomorrow at Wembley as the England manager ponders using Wayne Rooney in the midfield role he has played for Manchester United of late.

Lampard, who is nursing a knee injury, played a small part in training at St George's Park before the squad travelled yesterday to the Grove hotel in Hertfordshire, where they will be based ahead of the game. They will train at Arsenal's London Colney this morning.

Hodgson may consider resting Lampard for the second World Cup qualifier against Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday even if the midfielder is passed fit for Wembley. His absence will open up the question of who captains the side given that Steven Gerrard is suspended tomorrow. The two most likely candidates are Rooney and Joe Hart.

Rooney played in a midfield role in Sunday's 3-0 win over Newcastle, with Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck all occupying more advanced positions for much of the game. In the qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine last month, when Rooney was absent, Hodgson deployed Tom Cleverley behind the main striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Hart said this week he expected Rooney to get the captaincy: "I've no idea but I'm pretty sure it will fall to Rooney. He is our star man with 10 million caps at the age of 26. I imagine he is a little bit further up the queue than me.

"Of course I would [like to be captain], anyone would but that's life. I didn't go into goal thinking that I wanted to be captain. I just want to play. I'm happy to play and do my best for the team whether you've got the band or you haven't got the band. It is a great thing to play for your country. I really do mean that."

Against a team that have won just one game in their history, conceding 473 goals in 114 games, Hart was aware he may not be called into action often. "As a kid you can't help but enjoy when your team are getting hammered, getting loads to do," he said. "The reality side is it is a job and a livelihood and we need to win.

"It's just not often that I get much opportunity to make many saves because we are so solid at the back. Concentration is always key. International football is not often 'you have a go and then we'll have a go'. It's a chess game. I imagine, like most teams when they come to Wembley, San Marino are going to try and get people behind the ball.

"Ideally I don't want to touch the ball, I want us to win 10-0 and me not to touch the ball. That's the beauty of football, it doesn't matter how good a side you are or how big the expectations, sometimes you are under the cosh and sometimes I am required to do things."