England captain Steven Gerrard has scoffed at Patrick Vieira's claim that youngsters do not dream of playing for the Three Lions.
Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand was pulled from the England squad due to illness and in light of the furore that followed his Twitter outburst on the subject, Manchester City football development executive and France legend Vieira suggested English youngsters are not as committed as their French counterparts.
"In England, I really don't understand how so many young players from the age of 16 to 21 pull out of the national team through injury," Vieira said. "It's maybe the lack of FA power. Maybe it is a lack of love for the national team as well.
"When I grew up, I wanted to play for the French national team. That was my target, my dream - and I don't think this is the same for the Under-16s and Under-18s in England. I don't think the young players are dreaming of playing for the national team any more. I believe they are not as proud as they used to be."
Vieira's comments have been met with surprise by Gerrard who claims the youngsters he works with on a daily basis at Liverpool are desperate to play for their country.
"I don't really care what Patrick Vieira says," Gerrard said. "It surprised me to read that. The impression I get from young players at Liverpool is that they're desperate to get into this set-up.
"You can see in their faces that, when they're left out, it has disappointed them. The young players are hungry."