Rustenburg: England midfielder Frank Lampard has warned his team-mates that discipline on the field will be a key factor for any World Cup success.
The 31-year-old newly-installed vice-captain also rejected suggestions that striker Wayne Rooney might be easily provoked into hot-headed retaliation when England play the United States in their opening group C fixture on Saturday (June 12).
Rooney was sent off for retaliation, stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho, in his last finals appearance in the quarter-finals four years ago.
Lampard, however, believes the fully-committed and energetic 24-year-old striker has matured sufficiently in the time since that dismissal to be able to rise above any deliberate attempts to prompt a red card.
“No I don’t think so,” he said. “Wayne has matured a lot as a player over the last few years as we all know, so I don’t see that one happening.”
He added: “Discipline is very important now in the modern game, at all levels of football, but especially at the top level whether it is, for me, playing for Chelsea or for England.
“It is so important to have 11 men on the pitch because small details are so important and when you lose a player it can change anything.
“We have to be aware that you can get a red card for something that is not meant, or a bit stupid, and, in fact, any rash decision can affect the team that way.
“So, it is very important that we concentrate a lot on that. The referees are looking for these kind of incidents because the world is watching them and we have to be extra aware of that.”
Lampard added that manager Fabio Capello had stressed the importance of concentration and focus at all times, but also asked for strong tackles and determination.
“We must stay disciplined, but we know that we have to be careful not to overstep the mark,” he said.
England have had three players sent off in World Cup finals tournaments in the past - Ray Wilkins, for two yellow cards, against Morocco in a group game in Mexico in 1986, David Beckham in a second round match against Argentina in France in 1998 and Wayne Rooney, in a quarter-final against Portugal in Germany, in 2002.
Wilkins had taken over as captain only minutes before when Bryan Robson went off with a dislocated shoulder and his dismissal marked a sad finale to his World Cup career with England who reshuffled their team and went on to reach the quarter-finals where they were eliminated by Argentina, the eventual champions.
Beckham’s dismissal deprived England of a key player and they lost the match against Argentina on penalties after an exhausting 120-minutes battle to reach the last eight.
Rooney’s red card was similarly costly as the remaining ten men struggled through extra-time again before losing on penalties to the Portuguese.
England, intending to field their strongest team for at least 45 minutes, meet the local Platinium Stars team in an unofficial warm-up game at Moruleng Stadium, Moruleng, North West Province on Monday afternoon.
Security plans for the fixture were intensified on Monday morning following a stampede at Sunday’s warm-up game between Nigeria and North Korea.