x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Heskey earns Lampard vote

Frank Lampard has pinpointed the return of Emile Heskey as a key figure in England's renaissance.

Emile Heskey , No 9, celebrates his goal against Kazakhstan with Frank Lampard , left, and Gareth Barry, right.
Emile Heskey , No 9, celebrates his goal against Kazakhstan with Frank Lampard , left, and Gareth Barry, right.

Frank Lampard has pinpointed the return of Emile Heskey as a key figure in England's renaissance. Heskey's international career looked to be over but Steve McClaren recalled him at the start of the 2007-2008 campaign and he has not looked back since, emerging as a pivotal player in a six-match winning streak that has put England on the brink of qualification.

The strapping Aston Villa striker netted his first competitive goal for his country in seven years during the 4-0 win over Kazakhstan in the World Cup qualifier in Almaty on Saturday. It was his first meaningful goal since being on target against Denmark during the 2002 World Cup in Japan. "Emile is fantastic," said the midfielder Lampard. "His work-rate is brilliant and what he has done since he has come back into the squad has been top class.

"He is a great lad and he deserves a lot of credit. He deserved his goal against Kazakhstan but goalscoring is not all of his game. The beauty of Emile is the work ethic that he gives the team, the fact that he works his socks off. "He is a target man for us, he is very unselfish in the way he plays but now and again he pops up with his goals. He is top drawer." Lampard slammed the surface in the Central Stadium, likening it to a "park pitch" but praised Fabio Capello's side for getting to grips with the conditions.

He said: "The performance was good. I think the first 20 minutes was not so good. "We struggled to come to terms with the pitch and maybe the journey and everything. "Once we got into the game, once we scored a goal, we started to play better and move the ball more comfortably. "The pitch was awkward. It was like a park pitch back home really. You play on those when you are a kid. We didn't want to make any excuses about that before the game.

"But it didn't make it as comfortable to knock the ball about. You could see the ball bobbling. We over-hit balls a lot early on but once we came to terms with it, we moved the ball around a lot better. "We need a couple more wins to make sure of qualifying. We will only celebrate when we are there." England play Andorra at Wembley on Wednesday. * With agencies