european qualifying

Lampard: Rooney did not dive

September 8, 2009

England midfielder Frank Lampard insisted Wayne Rooney did not dive for a penalty against Slovenia at Wembley on Saturday, though did admit it should not have been a spot-kick.

And Lampard also backed manager Fabio Capello to make the right choice between starting Jermain Defoe or Emile Heskey to face Croatia on Wednesday.

Lampard, who took the penalty, said: "I think maybe it wasn't a penalty. I think it was clearly not a dive but probably not a penalty.''

Lampard praised both Defoe and Heskey for the different qualities they bring to the England set-up while being sure whichever player is picked will perform well.

"The question of starting is obviously the manager's decision,'' Lampard said. "He has shown in his career he makes the right decision more often than not.

"Jermain is making headlines as he's scoring goals. Emile has made a great case because of the way he has played for England for a long time.''

Lampard feels the memories of England's 3-2 loss to Croatia at Wembley which saw them miss out on Euro 2008 will motivate the players.

"It was a very low point for all of us, individually and as a group. We won't forget that and will use it as a positive,'' he said. "We need to keep cool heads, keep calm, but also show passion and desire to win the game. There certainly won't be tackles anyone is pulling out of.

"It's been fantastic how we've gone about it so far, the results we've got home and away. We need to finish the job, the sooner the better. The aim is to qualify - simple as that. If it doesn't happen on Wednesday night we have to make it happen the next time.''

The Chelsea midfielder also believes there is no reason to worry too much about England's defence.

"I think in qualifying the defending has been pretty good. We've gone to Croatia and Belarus and done pretty well,'' he said.

Croatia will be missing midfielder Luka Modric through injury and defender Vedran Corluka through suspension against England, but Lampard believes Slaven Bilic's men will still be a force to be reckoned with.

"I think they're two very good players,'' he said. "Modric particularly is the playmaker if the team. I know what a good player he is from playing against him against Croatia and Tottenham. Croatia will miss them, but Slaven Bilic has said he has worked on the strength of the team.''