Frank Lampard believes Rio Ferdinand still has a future with England, calling him a player of ‘fantastic quality’.
The Manchester United star pulled out of the squad for England’s upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers, but Lampard says he is good enough to return to the side.
“I was sorry for him (Rio Ferdinand) and the team because he has been in fantastic form and sorry to lose a player of fantastic quality, but this is about the squad getting the results it needs,” Lampard said at an England press conference on Tuesday.
“You see his performances against Real Madrid, particularly away where he was absolutely outstanding.”
The Three Lions travel to minnows San Marino on Friday and Lampard says they must play with professionalism despite the quality of the opposition.
“It is a game to be professional, where you are expected to win comfortably and don’t get much credit whatever the result,” he said.
“If we are disciplined and go about our job in the right way, then with the quality we have in our team with those attacking players you’d want to get the right result.
“I think we have to respect the smaller countries and I understand the debate.
“I don’t know the politics behind it to be honest, but I haven’t got a problem with playing against the San Marinos of the world.”
Fellow midfielder James Milner says Friday’s game will be an opportunity for England to show their ability.
“With the creative players we have in the squad hopefully we can get a goal early on and push on from there and score a few goals and put in a good performance and take that momentum and confidence into the game next week,” Milner said.
Both Lampard and Milner paid tribute to former international striker Michael Owen, who announced his retirement.
“Growing up watching him (Michael Owen) and watching his goal against Argentina, watching that as an England fan and I’ve been lucky enough to play with him too and see his quality first hand,” Milner said.
“I don’t think people give him the credit he deserves for his record over there and I think his contribution to English football and global football is massive and he’ll be missed.”