Lampard retirement leaves England short

LONDON - Although it was far from unexpected, Frank Lampard's international retirement increased the challenge facing England manager Roy Hodgson as he looks to move the team forward for the 2016 European Championship and beyond.

Lampard, on loan at Manchester City before heading to New York City, called time on his international career yesterday, barely two months after returning from England's dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil.

Having won 106 caps since his debut against Belgium in 1999, the 36-year-old was never going to be the future of the England team.

But with captain Steven Gerrard also quitting the national setup, there is suddenly a huge void in the centre of the England midfield.

Hodgson will name his squad tomorrow for a friendly against Norway and the first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland five days later and the midfield cupboard looks threadbare.

The loss of Lampard and Gerrard's combined 220 caps would be tough for any team to compensate for, but adding to Hodgson's woes is the fact many of those who could replace the pair are either unfit or out of form.

Liverpool's Adam Lallana, one of last season's best performers while at Southampton, is yet to feature for his new club after hurting his knee in pre-season, while Everton's Ross Barkley has torn medial ligaments and is out for an unspecified period.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere is fighting for his club spot and though Liverpool's Jordan Henderson is settled in his club's first team he has yet to prove he can stamp his authority at international level.

In Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge Hodgson has two reliable strikers and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling are dangerous wide men, but reliable, hard-working players capable of dominating the centre of the pitch are in short supply. - Reuters