We can win it without Rooney, says Lampard

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The Independent Online

Frank Lampard admitted yesterday that he had "panicked" when he saw that Wayne Rooney was injured but said there was no reason why England should use the striker's broken foot as "an excuse for not winning the World Cup".

The Chelsea midfielder added that there was "a danger this whole negative feeling is building up to say that if we don't go and win the World Cup it will be because of Wayne Rooney. We have a squad full of top-class players and we have to show what we're all about. We cannot find an excuse about one player. We are a team and we should be stronger than thinking about that. Let's not let all the attention go to Wayne.

"You can't say 'we've lost Wayne, our chances have gone'. Maybe it can be a silver lining. Of course it's not good for us to lose an influential player and a player who can make things happen on his own but we have to be positive."

Lampard said that concern over Rooney's injury - which occurred during Chelsea's match last Saturday against Manchester United - had spread to all the players. "Everyone could see even the Chelsea players were worried, not just the English players," he said. "Wayne, the player he is now, has a lot of respect worldwide. The Portuguese lads were concerned for him. We all want to see top players at the World Cup and we panicked when we saw him go down."

Rooney, he said, had called that evening to update him on the extent of the metatarsal injury - and also phoned him, inadvertently, yesterday. "He did not realise he had rung me but he rung me by mistake and I ended up speaking to him," Lampard said.

"He said he'd had the scan [on Tuesday] and the damage is not as bad as was reported when they said he was out of the competition. There are two breaks but it's the same situation as it was a couple of days ago and there is still the same healing process. He's optimistic. He's that naturally fit, naturally positive person and if anyone has a chance of being fit then it's him."

However, Lampard, who was speaking at the launch of a World Cup Fantasy League, run by the phone company Orange, said that England certainly had to plan on being without the 20-year-old. "I think we are all upset to lose, or potentially lose, Wayne, whether he plays a part or not," Lampard said. "Wayne is one of the best players in the world. Any team would miss him, whether it is England or Brazil. We have to look at our squad now and say 'hang on a minute, we've got Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, John Terry, Joe Cole, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand at the back'.

"I can go through the whole of that team and say 'fantastic player everywhere'. We have great quality in this team and can go and win the World Cup. For me there shouldn't be any pessimism. We should be disappointed that Wayne is struggling but we are still in that bracket where we can go and win the World Cup. There has been negativity but also positive elements. My reaction was 'what an important player, we're going to miss him'.

"There are lots of reasons to be confident. It might take certain players to take that little bit more responsibility and say 'I can step forward and give that bit more that might compensate'."

Lampard, who falls into that category, said he could draw on what he witnessed during Euro 96 - when he trained, as a teenager, with an England squad who were then facing pressure of a different kind after headlines over the infamous "dentist's chair" and their pre-tournament behaviour off the field. "There was a lot of negative press before that," Lampard said. "This is a different situation but we have to use it as a way of showing how much quality we have in the squad."

As part of yesterday's event, Lampard was asked to select a World XI - and was limited to choosing no more than three players from one country. Interestingly he chose only himself and John Terry from Chelsea but included five players - Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Nesta, Roberto Carlos, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho - who the champions have failed to sign. Plus none they are targeting this summer.

Frank Lampard's World Cup dream team

Lampard was limited to three players from each country for his World Cup dream team

GIANLUIGI BUFFON (Italy)

"Been the best goalkeeper for the past five or six years. Petr Cech has rivalled him in past two years."

CARLES PUYOL (Spain)

"He's very much in the mould of John Terry. Very determined, very quick and will give everything for the cause."

ALESSANDRO NESTA (Italy)

"He is not only a great defender but he has that style that certain defenders have. A certain elegance."

JOHN TERRY (England)

"A player I would rely on more than anyone else in world football. He's a strong character. The best defender in the world."

ROBERTO CARLOS (Brazil)

"Some people say he is getting on but he's still full of energy in a great team. A great name in football. The No 1 left-back."

SIMAO SABROSA (Portugal)

"I don't think many people would expect him in the team. But he's very sharp. I'm impressed with his skill."

FRANK LAMPARD (England)

"I try to develop every year. This season I've had a goal tally that has outdone every other year. Why pick myself? It puts a bit of pressure on me."

JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME (Argentina)

"I speak to Hernan Crespo and he says this player is the one all of Argentina has pinned its hopes on. He can light the World Cup up."

PAVEL NEDVED (Cz Rep)

"A fantastic talent. One of the top midfielders for a long time. A big player for a big tournament."

RONALDINHO (Brazil)

"I've always put Maradona up there as my favourite all-time player and this fellow now is rivalling him if not better than him. A beautiful player."

THIERRY HENRY (France)

"The best goalscorer in the world. Probably the greatest Premiership player there has been. Up there with Cantona. I went with Wayne Rooney first. I wanted to be patriotic. With his injury I've had to change it."

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