London: Frank Lampard remains a key player and leader for England despite being left out of the starting line-up in last week`s Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria, coach Fabio Capello said on Monday.
Although Lampard came on late in that 3-0 win in Sofia on Friday, it was the first time since 2007 that the 33-year-old had been dropped from the start of a competitive match.
Capello, whose team play Wales at Wembley on Tuesday, said at the time that he felt Lampard was not on top form.
Asked on Monday whether the Chelsea midfielder still had an England future, Capello`s reply was immediate: "Absolutely, yes.
"Frank Lampard is a really important player," said the Italian, whose side top Group G with 14 points from six games, three ahead of Montenegro who lost 2-1 to Wales on Friday.
"If he`s here, I think he`s ready to play with us. I don`t know if tomorrow he will play. Probably we can change the style to a different style that we played against Bulgaria because tomorrow we will play at home.
"He is one of the important players, one of the leaders in this squad."
England captain and Chelsea team mate John Terry also made clear he was backing Lampard.
"Write Frank Lampard off at your peril," he said.
"I have known him an awful long time. After the game obviously he was disappointed about not starting but he trained incredibly hard the day after and certainly will continue to do that.
"I have trained with him for a long time now and he`s definitely one of the best players that I have certainly ever played with, one of the best professionals I have ever played with as well.
"Because of his age people are tending to write him off but he is still in excellent form at Chelsea...his record for England as well has been incredible."
Gareth Barry and Scott Parker shone in midfield against Bulgaria but both are also one booking away from missing the next qualifier against Montenegro.
Capello, however, said the yellow card situation would not influence his thinking.
"I never think about this because I think it will be really important to win tomorrow, to beat Wales," he declared.
"Wales are in a really good moment of form and I don`t think about yellow cards, if some players will miss the game against Montenegro.
"Tomorrow will be a tough game because Wales are playing really well," he said. "(Against Montenegro) they created a lot of chances to score goals..."
A victory over Wales would leave England needing only a draw against Montenegro next month to qualify for the finals in Poland and Ukraine next year.