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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Gilberto backs Gerrard & Lampard
By Andrew McKenzie

Gilberto Silva (left) battles with Lampard
Gilberto battles with Lampard (right) at Wembley
Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva says Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are capable of forming a central midfield partnership for England.

England have struggled to find a way of fitting the two attack-minded midfielders into their system.

"People need to believe in them rather than criticise and say they cannot play together," Gilberto told BBC Sport.

"They need to lift them and boost their confidence. They showed they can play together. They made it hard for us."

Gilberto came face-to-face with Lampard and Gerrard at Wembley on Friday in the 1-1 friendly draw.

With holding midfielder Owen Hargreaves ruled out through injury, coach Steve McClaren opted to try the Lampard and Gerrard partnership in the centre of midfield.

When we play together for England you won't always get the same performances as we do for our clubs

Frank Lampard
While Gerrard rivalled David Beckham for England's best player, Lampard was again short of his top form.

Despite given ample opportunities to form a central midfield understanding under previous coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, the two stars have rarely looked like the right combination.

But Arsenal star Gilberto feels there is no reason why they cannot work together if they are given the chance.

"They are both great players - especially Steven Gerrard," he said.

"He is almost the complete player, he goes forward well, defends well, passes the ball and makes it very difficult.

"It is down to both of them to adjust and when one goes forward the other one stays back and that's what they did against us.

GERRARD & LAMPARD
Steven Gerrard (left) and Frank Lampard
Lampard has played 72 games this season and 77 in the last year
Gerrard has played 60 games this season and 66 in the last 12 months
England have started with both Gerrard and Lampard 33 times (W 20, D 7, L 6)
In the last two years England have played eight games without Gerrard and Lampard together in the starting line-up (W 7, L 1)

"I think the important thing is not to absorb the pressure and keep it in your mind.

"You are there on the pitch to be judged by the people and by journalists and by the fans and sometimes for the manager. But if you do your job well and give 100% you will go home and sleep well.

"This is the important thing - not to keep pressure on you.

"But it is not just about them but the whole team, England have some great players."

Lampard defended his performance at Wembley and feels too much is expected of himself and Gerrard when they play for their country.

"I think it worked very well on Friday," he said. "We were very disciplined, we worked hard together and it wasn't a game for me and Steven to get forward and get past the front man too much.

"I think people have to understand that when we play together for England you won't always get the same performances as we do for our clubs. Maybe we have a freer rein there to get forward.

606: DEBATE
MR

"We had to be disciplined and it worked very well I thought. I think we've been successful. I don't know what our record is but I think it's pretty good.

"There is an understanding, we're not selfish players where one of us wants to go running all over the pitch.

"We look at each other and we communicate with each other and make sure we don't play without discipline and that's what we did and we will continue to do that. "

And Gerrard added that he was shocked when he heard Lampard booed by the crowd at Wembley - and has backed his midfield partner to defy his critics.

"It was a shock to me," said Gerrard.

"You hear it on the tannoy as they go through the names, the majority of the team got a cheer but not for Frank, he got a few jeers.

"As a football player it can affect you two ways. You either go into a shell or you puff your chest out, take it on the chin and get on with it.

"I definitely know the way Frank will go - he will beat them. He'll score a wonder goal in the next few games or put in a wonderful performance.

"Let's get this right - we all know Frank, he's a world-class player. For me, it's so surprising because we are so lucky to have Frank Lampard in an England shirt."

  • Who would you pick in midfield for the game in Estonia? Choose your England XI using our squad selector:


  • SEE ALSO
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