It's time for Fabio Capello to bring the curtain down on Frank
Lampard's international career.
Lampard was on the bench against Bulgaria and will only slip further down the pecking order
when Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere return from injury.
Plus there are promising kids like Tom Cleverley and Jordan
Henderson snapping at his heels - the writing certainly seems to be on the wall
for the 33-year-old.
Lampard has been a good servant over the course of his 87
caps, even though he and Gerrard never quite worked out how to play in the same
There comes a point in every player's career where you are
declining, others are on the rise, and time catches up with you.
Frank is an intelligent man and he may realise himself that
he has reached that point, even if he doesn't admit it publicly.
We need fresh talent, although our development hasn't been
helped by the cavalier attitude shown to the Under-21 side.
Teams like Germany and Spain gel because they have been
playing together for years, but our best young players shunned the chance to
play in the Euro U21s.
It was supposed to help them come into the new season in
peak condition, but you only have to look at Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll to
see the flaws in that argument.
Wilshere could be out until December with an ankle injury,
and may well be wishing he had played when he had the chance.
As for Carroll, he was sent off on holiday and has come back
out of shape. I saw him in Malaysia in pre-season and he was clearly not fit,
and he still hasn't had the match time to regain his sharpness.
Clearly his lifestyle is an issue, though I don't think Fabio
Capello should have mentioned Carroll's drinking earlier this year.
It might be frustrating for him when he only sees his
players 10 times a year and they turn up out of shape, but his concerns should
be voiced privately.
It is disrespectful to the player and his club to be so
vocal, and I can imagine Kenny Dalglish wasn't too happy.
After a decent performance against a poor Bulgaria side, a
lot of people will be expecting England to wipe the floor with Wales.
I'm expecting a tough test against a team who are on a high
after beating Montenegro.
The most important thing at this stage for England is not
the result but the performance.
Managers often say they are happy to win while playing
badly, but the best ones do not mean it.
Sir Alex Ferguson is very much performance-oriented - when I
was at Manchester United we would get absolutely slaughtered if we played
poorly, even if we won.
Focusing on performance is the only way you improve, and
that's something the best countries like Spain and Holland do very well.
The challenge for England should not be qualifying for Euro
2012 but competing in the latter stages of the competition.
And we have a lot of improving to do if we want to be involved
at the sharp end in Poland and Ukraine.