Lampard likely to bow-out as captain against Costa Rica
Roy Hodgson has already confirmed veteran midfielder Frank Lampard, currently on 105 caps, will lead the side in England’s dead-rubber game with surprise Group D leaders Costa Rica, as the squad attempt to bow out of the Brazil finals in style in style.
Chelsea legend Lampard netted 8 times for his soon to be former club this term, and is at 10/1 to score first, or 7/2 to be on target anytime, and end the tournament, and probably his international career, on a high.
With England odds-on at 4/5 to beat the Central American side, a question remains on whether Premier League stars such as Wayne Rooney deserve to represent their nation in a tournament in which they have yet again disappointed. Captain Steven Gerrard is already benched for the clash, whilst those on the fringes will be hoping to win chances to impress.
Manager Hodgson’s crucial decision is whether to focus on a result, and try to ensure that the Three Lions do not exit the tournament with three defeats, or to put pride aside and focus on the future.
Everton left back Leighton Baines is out with a hamstring injury, paving the way for 18-year-old Luke Shaw to make his first competitive start, with Ross Barkley also confirmed to feature.
Arsenal attacker Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain will play no part in proceedings, however, having suffered further problems with his knee. This may allow James Milner to enjoy a starting berth wide right, with Raheem Sterling taking a break.
Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck may also be rested after two energetic performances on the left wing, leaving Adam Lallana with a pressure-free chance to shine. After an impressive domestic campaign, the Southampton man is 7/2 to score anytime.
With question marks surrounding Gerrard’s international future, Jack Wilshere could be given the opportunity to stake a claim for a midfield slot, with Everton starlet Barkley playing further forward and supporting the lone striker in place of Rooney.
Lampard’s inclusion looks sentimental from Hodgson, and may also allow new Liverpool signing Rickie Lambert to start up front. With 106 goals in 207 games for Southampton, Lambert who has netted three times in seven caps, is 7/4 to score anytime, but at 32 years old he is hardly one for the future.
You can make the argument that rebuilding should begin when the Three Lions return home from Brazil to lick their wounds. However, considering the disappointing nature of their elimination, with England now heavily odds-on at 1/2 to finish bottom of Group D, a new era cannot begin soon enough.
Glen Johnson looks set to retain his spot at right back, unless Hodgson decides to employ Manchester United’s Chris Smalling as a more defensive-minded option, against a Costa Rica side that are 10/3 to compound his misery and defeat England.
Fellow Red Devil Phil Jones also deserves an appearance ahead of Phil Jagielka, with the latter’s partnership with Gary Cahill proving to be a defensive axis of doom, leaking four goals in the previous two clashes.
Joe Hart could also see reserve goalkeepers Ben Foster and Fraser Forster challenging for his position, in a line-up that may please England fans wishing to see a new-look side, but anger those in the Italy and Uruguay camps.
Corals starting XI against Costa Rica :
Forster; Johnson, Jones, Cahill, Shaw; Lampard, Wilshere, Barkley, Lallana, Milner; Lambert.