sport

Lampard slams Rooney 'agenda'

Frank Lampard believes there is an "agenda" against Wayne Rooney and says the intense scrutiny of the Manchester United striker is counter-productive.

Rooney's place in the England team has been the subject of intense debate since Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Italy, but Lampard says the focus should be on the team as a whole.

"There has been a fixation with one player in every World Cup I've been involved in," he told a media conference on Tuesday.

"It's frustrating when you're in a team group and that happens. There is a fixation on one player and rather than a debate. It becomes an agenda so I think we need to drop the agenda and look at the team, whoever plays.

"Rooney is determined at every tournament. A lot of furore has been built up around him but I see the same Wayne. He wants to play well and give everything for the team.

"It's about a team performance. We didn't win the other night, but the minute you start trying to focus on individuals again and again and again it can be detrimental. Behind closed doors, we're trying to win games."

Much debate has centred on whether Rooney should be moved off the left into a central No 10 role and Raheem Sterling, who impressed in the middle against Italy, believes that change could work.

"It's up to the manager, but the right wing is my normal position. With Wayne's vision and passing abilities and my running abilities, that could be a really good thing, but it's up to the manager."

Lampard was an unused substitute on Saturday evening, but remains an important part of the squad and was quick to help his team-mates move on from the disappointment in Manaus.

"It wasn't a rallying cry, but I was just trying to help us move forward," he added.

"There were a lot of positives out of the game, but we lost and the minute we start accepting that and be happy with that, I don't think we're doing quite enough. No one wants to go home early, everyone understands the importance of the game on Thursday."

Luis Suarez is expected to be fit to face England in Sao Paulo on Thursday, but Lampard is confident that England's defenders can handle the Premier League player of the year.

"He's a fantastic player, the best player in the Premier League last year," he added. "All you can do is prepare well, defend well individually and as a team.

"Some players at his top level can come up with something off the cuff which you can't call but we have top-class defenders in our team who can stop him."