Posted on Sep 09
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard admits England's young guns have helped to give him a new lease of life on the international stage.
Just 12 months ago, Lampard was in danger of fading away from the England scene as he struggled to convince then boss Fabio Capello that he was still capable of contributing in the twilight of his career.
Lampard was often a substitute towards the end of the Capello era, but he has been revitalised since Roy Hodgson replaced the Italian in May.
Hodgson has made it clear to the 34-year-old that he remains part of his plans and just as importantly, he has brought the likes of Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the side.
Lampard is relishing the opportunity to pass on his knowledge to the two gifted young prodigies and he believes that elder statesman role, and realisation he could lose his place to them, has acted as a jump-start to his own England prospects.
"It's life that all of a sudden you become one of the older ones in the squad and it creeps up on you quite quickly," Lampard said on Sunday.
"I'm used to being called a veteran now. I've had that for four years! It is scary. Those things are a little reminder that in football terms you are getting to the other end.
"But I'm enjoying the different role, I enjoy being a bit more older and experienced, and trying to help anyway I can with the young boys.
"I find it very exciting to see the young players coming through like Alex and Tom. I'd much rather that than a stale team with no-one pushing each other.
"These kids come in and freshen up training, freshen up the game and that's good for us as a country and enjoyable for us to play in there. They have helped to energise me."
Lampard missed Euro 2012 through injury but Hodgson quickly brought him back into the fold this season.
He took over as captain in Steven Gerrard's absence for last month's friendly with Italy and also wore the armband when Gerrard came off at half-time in Friday's 5-0 win over Moldova.
Lampard, who will play a key role again in Tuesday's qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley, insists he never felt like quitting international duty, unlike some of his former team-mates who quickly lost patience when asked to stay on the bench.
"I've always been here, sometimes on the bench in recent times, and it is part of being a strong squad," he said.
"You can't always have it your own way, you can't expect to start every game.
"I've stayed playing because I enjoy it and feel I can contribute and I'm just pleased to be back at the stage of the other night when I'm contributing and we are winning games.
"As you get older, I think your game changes. There are certain games when you don't feel so good but I had those when I was 24 as well. That is just being a footballer sometimes."