Frank Lampard believes Daniel Sturridge's international breakthrough is inevitable. The 22-year-old forward is not in Fabio Capello's squad for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro, but his Chelsea team-mate, who is in the party, believes that Sturridge's first cap is only a matter of time.
"No doubt he will break through at international level, it is just a matter of when," said Lampard, who has 88 England caps. "He can be a great player for Chelsea and England." Sturridge was arguably England's best player at the European Under-21s Championship in the summer, and while Capello has not yet asked him to step up into the senior squad, Lampard is convinced that he is good enough to do so. "He has got that extra excitement that people crave: pace and the ability to beat a man and make a goal out of nothing."
Sturridge scored twice against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, and Lampard, who scored three, attributed Sturridge's development to his loan spell at the Reebok Stadium last season. "His spell at Bolton gave him a lot of confidence that he could do it in the Premier League," Lampard said. "He never got that chance here before. He came to Bolton and scored regularly and looked a really exciting player. I watched him a lot here [at Bolton]."
For Bolton, Sturridge scored eight goals in 12 appearances, including four in his first four games. Lampard recalled how his team-mate returned to Chelsea this summer with confidence buoyed: "He came back with a spring in his step for pre-season training and showed he is going to be a top-drawer player. He has unbelievable speed off the mark, skills, finishing – what more can you ask?"
While some have accused Sturridge of over-confidence, Lampard was quick to insist he had exactly the right approach needed to succeed at the top level. "His attitude is great. Sometimes people can mix up over-confidence with desire to do well," he said. "He will try things because he has confidence in his ability and that is great to see – otherwise you probably won't make it as a player. He wants to do well and I like it. I can see the look on his face – he wants to play. If he has not had his best game, he wants to make it better.
"He has all the ability in the world to make a great player. He will still have to learn along the way but you can never take away that inner confidence because that is what makes you that little bit different and little bit special."