News24

Lampard to lead England

2011-11-11 15:51

London - Frank Lampard will captain England in their friendly international with Spain this weekend, manager Fabio Capello confirmed here Friday.

Chelsea midfielder Lampard, 33, will don the armband after Capello opted to rest skipper John Terry from the starting line-up for Saturday's sell-out game at Wembley.

It marks a sharp turnaround in fortunes for Lampard, who was dropped from England's recent games against Bulgaria and Montenegro, fuelling speculation his 89-cap international career was drawing to a close.

However Lampard became the logical choice for Capello after his decision to omit Terry followed the absence through injury of Steven Gerrard and the out-of-form Rio Ferdinand.

Capello was adamant that Terry, who is at the centre of police and FA investigations into alleged racism, remained his permanent captain and would play against Sweden next week.

"He is the team leader," Capello told a press conference. "He will play against Sweden but tomorrow he will be on the bench. We have six substitutions and I will decide on them during the game.

"For me, he (Terry) is innocent until proven guilty, absolutely. I respect every decision but I cannot speak about this."

Capello insisted he had decided to rest Terry for the Spain game before the emergence of allegations the defender had racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a recent Premier League game.

"I decided everything before what happened. I don't like to speak about this," Capello said.

In other team news, Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor withdrew from the squad Friday after sustaining a slight hamstring injury.

England's players took to the field at Wembley for training on Friday after holding two minutes' silence to mark Armistice Day.

It followed a row earlier this week over an FA request for England's players to be allowed to wear commemorative red poppies on their shirts for Saturday's prestige friendly against Spain at Wembley.

World governing body FIFA initially refused the request on the grounds that it could open the door to similar initiatives from other countries.

After protests from the British government and expression of dismay from Britain's royal heir Prince William, FIFA eventually agreed a compromise wear players are allowed to wear poppies on black armbands.

AFP