Lampard out, Parker unfit and England low on confidence
Hodgson: losing midfielder is 'huge blow' as Gary Neville worries about squad's 'mental frailty'
ROY HODGSON suffered a major setback in the build up to Euro 2012 yesterday when Frank Lampard was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury sustained while training on Wednesday. Liverpool's Jordan Henderson has been called in to replace him, The Daily Telegraph reports.
England Manager Roy Hodgson said: "It's a huge blow for the team, especially coming after the loss of another senior player in Gareth Barry. The fact that the doctor cannot guarantee Frank could take part in any of the group matches means we have to replace him in the central midfield area," according to the Daily Mail.
Henderson has failed to win over the Liverpool faithful this season, scoring just twice and playing a predominantly wide role. He joins teammates Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll in a £75 million Liverpool package in the England set-up. But Hodgson can't be accused of favouritism to his old club, all three were signed for the Reds by Kenny Dalglish.
The problems don't end there for Hodgson. England's midfield woes have been exacerbated by Scott Parker's continuing Achilles injury: the Tottenham player played just one minute in Spurs' last four games, and although he did manage an hour against Norway there are still serious concerns about his fitness.
Meanwhile new coach Gary Neville, who yesterday declared the England camp a Wag-free zone, has also expressed concerns about the current squad's mental fragility. Neville, a veteran of five major tournaments, knows a thing or two about mood and player morale in England camps.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Neville appraised current the England squad, singling out goalkeeper Joe Hart for particular praise. Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Steven Gerrard were also marked out as strong, experienced leaders.
But Neville raises concerns about the inexperience and relative youth of this England squad in comparison to other years. "We have to make younger players understand that it is a pressurised atmosphere where you are expected to do well all the time," he said. "You will be tested in every way."
The England coach also voiced concerns that England are not mentally prepared to win the tournament. "Now there seems to be the lowest expectation I've ever known for an England team going into a tournament but the fact is, in tournaments gone past, it's been fine lines,' he said. "We have to overcome the psychological aspect eventually."
The young players brought into this tournament, Neville thinks, will be key players in the future. "Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Jones are being bought in not just with this tournament in mind but giving them experience for ones to come.