Frank Lampard says England’s new “fearless” generation are on a different level and “more technically gifted” than ever before.
New York City midfielder Lampard is expecting England’s clutch of youngsters to make their mark on Euro 2016 and believes Tottenham starlet Dele Alli “really stands out” among Roy Hodgson’s new generation of players.
Hodgson’s squad are the second youngest in France with an average age of 25.39 years and in Alli, 20, Harry Kane, 22, and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, 18, Hodgson has potentially three of the best young players the Three Lions have ever produced.
“It’s a different level of player that we’re seeing emerge now – more technically gifted, I would say, and more intelligent on the ball,” the 37-year-old Lampard told The Times.
“Dele Alli excites me a lot. He’s a goalscoring midfielder but he’s a different type of player to me. I’ve been so impressed by the season he has had for Tottenham. For me, he’s the one who really stands out. He’s straight in there in the starting XI.
“I’m a big Harry Kane fan. If you have only one up front, then for me it’s Harry Kane. He’s a fantastic all-round centre-forward, probably the first we’ve had of that particular type since Alan Shearer.
“I really like Rashford. He’s the kind of striker England have been looking for a while. I like his movement, his ability. In everything he does – on and off the ball – he’s always looking to get beyond the opposition defence. Like a lot of them, he plays without fear.”
Former Chelsea star Lampard played 104 times for England in five major tournaments and he believes his best one was his first – at Euro 2004.
“Some people talk about the number of young players in this squad as if it’s a bad thing, but on a personal note, I found my first tournament – Euro 2004 – was my best as an England player,” he added.
“I had just come off the back of a really good season at Chelsea and I had just managed to squeeze into the squad late on. Quite a few other players were in a similar position going into that tournament, where it’s all new and it’s all fresh and there’s no fear or apprehension whatsoever…we just felt we could take anyone on.
“I thought the fear thing was spoken about too much after [then-England manager] Fabio Capello mentioned it, but I think it probably did become a bit of an issue for England for a time, whereas I look at this squad now and there’s a real fearlessness in it. Dele Alli – I don’t see any fear there.
“I keep hearing people saying quarter-finals will be OK for us, but I don’t want to say that. I think we can make the semi-finals if things go for us. For a developing team, that would be great.”