Lampard: Rooney is fired up

Andover Advertiser: Frank Lampard insists Wayne Rooney is focused on the task in hand Frank Lampard insists Wayne Rooney is focused on the task in hand

Frank Lampard expects Wayne Rooney to be fired up and determined to prove his critics wrong in England's crunch match against Uruguay on Thursday.

Rooney's place in the team has come under the spotlight in recent weeks after a number of indifferent displays - the latest of which came in England's 2-1 defeat to Italy on Saturday.

Lampard claims there is a counter-productive "agenda" against Rooney that will only hinder England's chances of succeeding at this World Cup.

Like Rooney, Lampard has gone through his ups and downs with England. The former Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a successful start to his international career, but he was booed in 2007 - much to his dismay.

Lampard recovered from the episode and he is backing Rooney to prove his doubters wrong - just when England need him the most.

"I think Wayne looks ready to show what he can do on the pitch," the England midfielder said.

"He looks very focused to me."

Despite Rooney's sub-par showing against Italy, it is highly unlikely that he will not play against Uruguay in England's second Group D game on Thursday.

The striker put in some extra training at his own request on Monday and the criticism has not affected his mood according to Lampard, who has played alongside Rooney for 11 years with England.

"I get on very well with Wayne. We never mention it (the criticism)," Lampard said.

"We just watch the other games in the hotel, have massages, have a joke.

"It was one of the masseurs' 50th birthday today, so we strapped him and volleyed a few balls at him, as us mature boys do, and that's it.

"It's light-hearted. That's how it is and Wayne is always at the middle of the light-heartedness as well."

England need Rooney and the rest of his team-mates to be at their best in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

A defeat would all but end England's chances of qualification and a draw would leave the team relying on other results to progress.

England put on an encouraging performance in Manaus. Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck took the step up to World Cup level with ease.

But Roy Hodgson was determined to let the players know the result was not good enough.

The England manager addressed the squad, along with Lampard and Steven Gerrard, the day after the match.

The input of Gerrard and Lampard was important - not only because of their respective roles as captain and vice-captain - but because they know all too well what it feels like to go to a tournament and head home early.

"There were a lot of good reports and rightly so after the game but I don't want to part of a team which had great potential and played a good performance but then we all go home. Nobody wants to do that," said Lampard, who is playing at his third World Cup.

"We are under no illusions what the next game is about. It was very important me and Steven said the same because we've been there and gone home earlier than what we wanted before and we wanted to really take stock now and realise there's a cup final coming up and we had four or five days to really get ready for it."

Saturday's game in Manaus was the first time Lampard had watched an England World Cup game from the bench.

The former Chelsea midfielder played every minute of the campaigns in South Africa and Germany, but he is now getting used to being on the periphery despite his role as vice-captain.

Lampard knows he is in the final throes of his international career.

On Tuesday at England's training base in Rio, he sat alongside Raheem Sterling, who is almost half Lampard's age.

"I want to play, but I'm aware that you aren't always going to start and I will be turning 36 at the end of the week," said Lampard, who has 105 England caps.

"You just adapt and when you're part of the squad you help other players around you, train well and try and set an example and add your voice to meetings in the dressing room."

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