SOFIA, BULGARIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Frank Lampard in action with Tom Cleverley during the England training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 Group G qualifier against Bulgaria at the Vasil Levski National Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Well, I suppose this is big Chelsea news. Frank Lampard has been dropped from England's starting lineup while available for the first time in four years, failing to break into an England team that features Scott Parker and Gareth Barry in a central midfield pairing for a Euro 2012 qualifying match against Bulgaria. It's unknown whether or not Lampard has made the bench, but I'd guess that a) he has and b) he won't play anyway unless something goes horribly wrong. Here's the full lineup, which features Ashley Cole and John Terry in defence:
I think it's safe to say that despite being a minor blow to Lampard's and Chelsea's pride, this is probably a good thing for the team and the player. Lampard is in a phase of his career where rest times matter more and more, and he can't expect to keep playing every single game he's available for. This is one of the reasons Chelsea brought in former Liverpool man Raul Meireles on Wednesday, and prioritising the 33-year-old's fitness will keep him fresh for the stretch run.
Could this be the end of Lampard's England career? There's speculation about that, of course, but I don't think anyone knows how the midfielder will react to being dropped. If he does choose to retire, however, I don't see any way that's not a good thing for Chelsea. He's got limited time left in those legs, and the club needs Lampard playing for them, not for England.