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Page last updated at 22:07 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 23:07 UK

Lampard praises improved England

ENGLAND v CROATIA
World Cup qualifier, European group six
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Weds 9 Sept (kick-off 2000 BST)
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary on BBC website, live on ITV1


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England will use Bilic comments - Lampard

Midfielder Frank Lampard believes England are a far more confident team than the one that crashed out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers to Croatia.

Lampard and his team-mates face Slaven Bilic's side again in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Wednesday.

And England will book their place in next summer's finals if they pick up all three points.

"You would have to be a fool not to see how much the team has gone on from that point two years ago," said Lampard.

"That was a low point in all of our careers and in England's recent history.

England midfielder Frank Lampard
Lampard was on target for England against Slovenia on Saturday

"It was a team of very good individuals who were very low on confidence, on that night and also in other parts of the competition at certain times.

"Now we have got a lot more confidence, we have moved on a great deal as a team, although not as far as we want to go yet.

"It was horrible to go out of a major tournament in front of your own fans. It scars you as a player.

"We all carried that around for many weeks and it hit us again when you watched in the summer and we were not involved.

"We want to try and make sure we get through on Wednesday night but, if we don't manage it then, then we have to focus on the next game and try and make sure we achieve it then."

Bilic has claimed that Capello's side is flawed and missing a certain 'Englishness' in their mentality but Lampard feels his former West Ham team-mate is playing mind games to motivate his own team.

The Chelsea star said: "I know Slaven from playing with him a few years back. I don't take any real notice of that one way or the other.

"It is probably a few words to fire up his own team a bit, to get them going. It all adds to the spice of a big game."

But Lampard's international team-mate Matthew Upson has expressed concern about the condition of the Wembley pitch which was relaid over the summer.

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"You could tell that it looked like it had been quite freshly laid," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It probably isn't the ideal surface to play off, but it's quite a quick surface. The ball is like a bar of soap at times and it's hard to get the ball down and pass it, but it is the same for both teams.

"It's fair to say the pitch could improve slightly."

Upson also insisted that his West Ham teammate Robert Green deserves the chance to prove he is England's number one keeper.

Green started in Saturday's win over Slovenia with David James suffering from bone bruising and Upson says he has the perfect opportunity to keep his place.

"He's worthy of the opportunity to keep the shirt and then it is down to him," he added.

"I think he has done enough to show he is capable of doing a good job at that level and he should continue to be given that opportunity to prove he can do the business."



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see also
Pick your England XI
31 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Defensive mistakes anger Capello
07 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Defoe form hands Capello dilemma
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
England 2-1 Slovenia
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Capello recalls Crouch and Lennon
30 Aug 09 |  Internationals
England players hurting - Beckham
22 Nov 07 |  Internationals
England 2-3 Croatia
21 Nov 07 |  Internationals


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