Frank Lampard injured: Because things weren’t hard enough for England

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England has already lost one projected starter in midfield. Their best player (Wayne Rooney) is suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012, while their group’s composed of three opponents who may be better situated to advance to the quarters (once you factor in a potential Ukraine home advantage).

And as if that wasn’t enough of a cruel joke from the soccer gods, now Frank Lampard’s an injury concern. The Chelsea midfielder suffered a thigh injury in training on Wednesday. He’ll be evaluated on Thursday, but if the scans don’t look good, he’s out.

If England’s forced to withdraw Lampard, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson will take his place in the squad. That means Roy Hodgson’s starting tandem in midfield will likely be Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard, with Ashley Young playing behind Andy Carroll (the position Gerrard was expected to play). It’s the same set up Hodgson used in England’s 1-0 Saturday victory in Norway.

Another implication brought up by the Telegraph’s reporting: Frank Lampard may have played his last major tournament. He’ll be 36 for 2014’s World Cup in Brazil, and while there don’t appear to be a ton of options on England’s horizons, you don’t find a lot of 36-year-old midfielders bossing teams that qualify out of UEFA.

That means Euro 2012 is potentially his last hurrah, if he can go. Else, South Africa may have been the last time we’ll see Frank Lampard at a major international competition.

That’s something I don’t really want to think about right now. In the last two years, I’ve gone from thinking Frank Lampard vastly overrated by people who put too much value in aggregating goal totals to an under-appreciated, if limited star. The adjustments he’s made over the last two years (and, his willingness to make them) have been largely undervalued, and even his decisive passes on crucial goals against Barcelona were largely overlook amid plaudits for Didier Drogba.

If he continues to adapt his game, there’s no reason he won’t have a bit part to play come Brazil. After all, Paul Scholes is 37, and he wouldn’t look out of place in this England squad.

In fact, after Lampard and Gareth Barry’s injuries, Scholes would be downright valuable.

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