Lampard: Roy's making his mark

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard was named England captain by Roy Hodgson for the midweek friendly against Italy in Bern. Photo: PA

Frank Lampard believes England coach Roy Hodgson is starting to stamp his mark on the team but stressed the importance of players embracing his ideas.

Stand-in skipper Lampard revealed Hodgson has put a greater accent on England retaining possession and believes there will be more gradual changes during the next few months.

The initial results were encouraging with England far more comfortable in possession during last night's 2-1 win over Italy in Berne than had been evident in their Euro 2012 quarter-final clash against the Azzurri.

Lampard said: "He (Hodgson) had little time to prepare before the Euros which made it difficult for him to get his complete imprint on the team.

"Of course, you can't compare this game with Italy with the one in the summer because tournament games are the ones you want to win.

"But the manager and his staff have made a big thing of trying to keep the ball more, trying to be positive with our football but keeping the ball, knocking it around and playing from midfield.

"That was the emphasis in training for the past two days and, when you try and do those things in training, and see it work in the game, that's when you know we've had a good few days together."

Lampard added: "In the tournament, the team played well and, with the flip of a coin, you win the penalty shoot-out and are in the semi-finals and it could be different.

"But there is always time for improvement. As a group collectively we want to improve and the manager made that point.

"I think in the next few months there will be gradual change and it is up to us as players to take it on board.

"You can have the best manager in the world but us players need to try and react, listen to what is happening in training and try and do it out on the pitch.

"It is easy sometimes to do it in training but when you step out into a competitive arena it can be difficult and this Italy game was a good step for us.

"We have done it in a friendly, it is important we do it in next month's games (World Cup qualifiers)."

Roy Hodgson
After a difficult start to his tenure Hodgson appears to have won fans and players round to his style. Credit: PA

Hodgson handed a debut to midfielder Tom Cleverley and his assured performance in a 4-3-3 system came as no surprise to Lampard.

The Chelsea player said: "I thought he did very well. I am impressed with him as a lad and as player.

"Watching him play for Manchester United and Team GB, he is a very accomplished footballer. I think he has got it all at his feet.

"He has got great feet, is a good personality. I like him a lot.

"He was not fazed and that probably comes from playing at Old Trafford, playing with good players, but it is still a step up to play for England and it was his debut.

"He took to it and made it look easy."

Lampard is a big fan of Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, who scored England's winner in Berne, stretching back to their time as youngsters at West Ham.

Defoe has struggled to play regularly for his country but Lampard believes his importance cannot be under-estimated.

He said: "Jermain still has got an international future, without a doubt. I'm a huge fan of his, having known him at West Ham as a kid and watched his career.

"He is a goal machine. I love strikers that are hungry to score goals and he has got that about him.

"He has got that real sharpness and not many strikers could have scored that goal he scored, with the short backlift, the quick turn and finish.

"When you have got someone with an instinct like that for goal, you need them in your team or around your team because they can make something out of nothing."

Lampard added: "Managers have their choices. Maybe he hasn't always played at Tottenham for himself to be in there (with England)

"But I know when Jermain is in the team, you fancy he is going to get a goal because he is that sharp and he does it in training all the time.

"When players can make that difference, it is brilliant."