Frank Lampard will take a moment to relish commemorating his 100th England cap at Wembley against Chile on Friday night – but knows there can be no guarantees for anyone of a seat on the plane to the 2014 World Cup.
With regular Three Lions skipper Steven Gerrard missing because of a hip injury, Lampard will lead the team out ahead of a special ceremony to recognize joining the centurion club, a feat he achieved in the qualifier away against Ukraine during September. Although Gerrard and Manchester United‘s Michael Carrick are both sidelined, there remains plenty of competition for places in midfield.
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and uncapped Southampton captain Adam Lallana could slot in alongside Lampard, while Everton youngster Ross Barkley is also available. Chelsea midfielder Lampard, 35, accepts there cannot be any thoughts of complacency over making Roy Hodgson’s final selection for Brazil, which will be named in March.
"There is no-one who can put their name down and say ‘I am on that plane’. There will be people that are very regular, captains at their clubs, but form going into the tournament is very important," said Lampard, who has recovered from a touch of flu picked up off his family at the weekend. "We all have to bear that in mind and I will certainly not be taking anything for granted."
Lampard continued: "The manager knows where he is at with his plans, the players who have been playing and the ones who are threatening to be in the squad. The onus is on every individual to play as well as they can, for the manager to then say ‘you are my pick’.
"The pressure is what you put on yourself to want to be there. There is a big gap between the next England games and we need to put everything into these two games, go back to our clubs and perform as well as we can."
Lampard’s daughters Luna and Isla are mascots on Friday night, while his father Frank senior will join Sir Geoff Hurst in making the presentation to the long-serving England international, whose first cap came against Belgium at the Stadium of Light in October 1999 when he was with West Ham.
"I am not a huge one for personal occasions," said Lampard, "I have seen other players get their gold cap and always kind of ‘wowed’ at the look of it and the presentation, so I am very pleased to be getting it in front of a home crowd, with players I have spent a lot of my caps with and from people who are special to me. It will certainly be a moment I look back on with pride."
Gerrard has had a pain-killing injection in his hip and England manager Hodgson is hopeful the Liverpool midfielder will be fit for Tuesday’s friendly against Germany, also at Wembley. Hodgson confirmed he will rest goalkeeper Joe Hart, and is likely to use the two matches to weigh up his options in all positions.
Lampard believes England are starting to strike a good balance of experience and potential.
"Two or three years ago we bemoaned the fact we did not have the people with pace and ability to create chances out of nothing as much as other nations did, now we are starting to see the breakthrough of players who can do that," he said. "I don’t want to put us up on a pedestal and compare us to other squads of before, but there is a real inner confidence.
"We need to be pushed on by that youthfulness and also offer experience of where we have been before. If we can get that right then we really are going to try to get the best out our ourselves (in Brazil)."
Lampard maintains England must not take the challenge of Chile lightly following an impressive qualifying campaign themselves behind Argentina and Columbia.
"We cannot just talk up Germany without being aware of Chile," said Lampard. "They have got a great record in recent years, and were unfortunate not to win against Spain, they have drawn with Brazil and have plenty of talented players that we know about. It will be a different style of play than we are used to and so a very tough game, but we are ready for it."