• Roy Hodgson calls Ashley Cole 'a potential left-back'
• 'We all have to be on top form,' says Lampard
Frank Lampard has admitted his century of caps will count for nothing as he and England's handful of senior players seek to convince Roy Hodgson they merit inclusion in the squad for the World Cup, with Friday's friendly against Chile at Wembley the first of three auditions before the naming of the party for Brazil.
The Chelsea midfielder will be presented with his golden cap by Sir Geoff Hurst and his father, Frank Sr, before kick-off to commemorate his achievement in becoming the eighth player to accumulate 100 England appearances. Lampard will captain the side for what is actually his 103rd game and yet, with matches against Germany on Tuesday and Denmark in March to follow before Hodgson names his initial 30-man squad for Brazil on 13 May, he recognises his own place at the tournament is far from guaranteed.
Hodgson underlined the task facing all his senior players by referring to Ashley Cole, who is likely to gain a 106th cap against Chile, merely as "a potential English left-back" with competition for places apparently fierce throughout the set-up. Asked whether he would expect to be judged on his weight of experience or his form over the remainder of the campaign, Lampard said: "Mainly on the rest of the season. We're all in the same boat. What we've done up to now carries a bit of weight, some more than others, but if your form isn't good enough in the next six or seven months until May … well, we all have to be on top form. I don't think it should be any other way.
"If I walked around thinking my 103 caps would get me on the plane, I'd probably be on the beach [in the summer] because that means you're taking things for granted. I don't think any of us can afford to do that. I understand that. When you see young players coming into the squad and pushing you, no matter what age you are, you have to react. You have to worry about yourself and perform as well as you can. If you end up looking around at others, wondering who's performing better, you take your eye off the ball.
"I'm not silly. I understand that, with age and at different parts of your career, you have different challenges. I'm very determined in my challenge to show the manager, regardless of age – and he's always said it doesn't matter if you're 17 or 35 going on 36, he'll not look at you any differently – that I should be involved. The rest is up to me. We have just qualified, but the preparation begins here. We can't waste a training session, or a game. We now are looking at individuals and the team getting stronger."
Hodgson effectively has those three friendly fixtures and, at most, four training sessions to ascertain first-hand who should gain inclusion in his initial 30-man party, to be reduced to 23 thereafter, with the auditioning process under way. He has already seen a quartet of players ruled out of Friday's match after Rickie Lambert picked up a muscular injury to join Daniel Sturridge, Kyle Walker and the first-choice captain, Steven Gerrard, on the sidelines.
There will be first caps for the Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, as well as Celtic's Fraser Forster in goal as he shares duties with John Ruddy, with Cole likely to start at left-back and Leighton Baines pencilled in to begin Tuesday's visit of Germany.
Everton's teenage talent Ross Barkley should earn a second cap at some stage against the team who finished third in South American qualification, with this an opportunity for the management to experiment while the seniors attempt to stake their own claim. Lampard, whose daughters Luna and Isla will be mascots at the fixture, is likely to retire from international football next summer but still aspires to do so after a successful tournament with the team in Brazil.
"I'll try and perform and put myself in contention for the World Cup and then I'll cross that bridge when it comes next summer, whether it be before, during or after the finals," added the midfielder, whose Chelsea contract also expires at the end of this season. "Hopefully it'll be after a World Cup we've won and we can all retire happily. That, for me, would be the case, turning 36 then.
"But I don't want to make that clear yet because I'm not sure of it in my own head. Club-wise, pretty much the same. You understand that, at my age and at this point of my career, it's not four- or five-year contracts. It's one-year extensions, and I'm very happy with that. I'll be looking at that as it comes round as well. I want to play for a few more years, and I want to put myself in contention to do that. I'd love to do that at Chelsea for as long as they want me and for as long as I feel I'm contributing there. There's a long season still to go, we're not even at Christmas yet, but I hope to keep performing."