Roy Hodgson has admitted that Frank Lampard is worried about his England career beyond the summer as Chelsea continue to hold out over the prospect of a new contract for the 34-year-old.
The England midfielder scored his 27th goal for his country on Wednesday night against Brazil, taking him joint 11th with David Platt on the all-time list, and put more pressure on Chelsea to offer him a new deal when his contract expires in June. There was no clear indication from Chelsea that their stance has altered, although at such a volatile club, that can change at any time.
After Wednesday's game, Hodgson warned Lampard that if he did move to Los Angeles, that would make it difficult to continue his England career – he is six caps short of 100. Hodgson said that he had spoken to Lampard about the issue.
"He [Lampard] is concerned about it," Hodgson said. "It's a bit of a difficult situation for him because he's not sure exactly what his future is. It's not for me to comment on what goes on between him and his club but the one thing I know is that he is anxious to keep competing for a place in the England team.
"And I've said to him that if it's not going to be Chelsea – and from what I've read and heard there is a chance of him moving on – I'm rather hoping he'll still be either here or in Europe because that will make it easier for us to keep picking him. If he does take the David Beckham route and go over to America that doesn't rule him out as such, but you will understand it does make life a little bit more difficult.'
Beckham was 32 when he went to America and won 19 more caps travelling back and forth from Los Angeles. Lampard will be 35 in June, although Hodgson said that his age should not be a bar to him playing at the World Cup finals next summer, if England qualify.
The club have been reluctant to extend Lampard's contract at his current level, around £150,000 a week. He was a target for Los Angeles Galaxy but his second option, in China, looks less attractive now with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, both former Chelsea team-mates, having returned from Shanghai to Europe amid doubts that the Super League does not have such lucrative potential.
A friendly compromise between both sides that lets Lampard stay would be the solution most supporters would like. Should Roman Abramovich decree that Lampard has to stay, it will happen, regardless of other personalities.
Lampard's agent, Steve Kutner, is understood to have been out the country for the last two weeks. Lampard's pursuit of Bobby Tambling's all-time scoring record for Chelsea, 202, of which he is five short, has become a compelling sub-plot to the season, especially given the time frame left to achieve it.
Hodgson said: "For a player of his [Lampard's] mobility – and his athleticism is as strong today as when I first saw him at West Ham all those years ago – I'm not really fearful of that. As long as he is keeping his place like Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick and the other people he's competing with, then I shall be able to keep him in my mind as well. But I think in that area of the field, experienced, great quality central midfielders, we're pretty well-blessed."